What to Showcase On Your Home Page

Hot on the trail of this popular blog post about home page content, it’s time to think about your own home page. One thing is for sure, with the changing search algorithms, the “old” format of home pages will need to be transformed.

What to Showcase On Your Home Page, window

Think of your home page as a window to the rest of your website or “home”. 

What type of window is it: stained glass, decorative, bay, tinted, mirrored? What do you want people to see?

Thinking about a home page in these terms will help you think about what should be featured on an effective home page. 

Compelling Header

At first glance, a home page header says everything about your business. This is the space you want to take charge of your branding and send a strong message. This can usually be achieved with a high-quality picture paired with a strong statement or call to action.

While big headers were thought to be something to avoid in the past, they are a hot commodity nowadays. The only thing to keep in mind is the load time of the image and space you use “above the fold”. People are used to scrolling through a home page, on desktop, tablet and mobile. You just have to give them the right reason to.

Navigation to Other Relevant Parts of Your Website

The new golden rule for a home page ISN’T to keyword stuff and feature everything all on one page. Instead, it’s more helpful to show visitors different areas of your website and make it easy to navigate to that area.

A home page shouldn’t be so cluttered that all different pages and keywords are working against each other. Just think about it, as every page on your website isn’t a landing page or equal in importance, your home page forces you to focus and choose exactly what you want to showcase on one important page. Make a good first impression!

Keyword Focus

Keywords, homepage

The home page is no longer a place to throw around all different keywords. It was common practice to include terms and phrases that you aren’t even optimizing for on that exact page. Instead, focus on the general term/idea and make it a point to brand yourself as a reliable, trustworthy and authoritative business.

Q&A Content

Gone are the days of home pages with blocks and blocks of content. No one wants to sift through a load of content on a home page. This is where you break things up and feature FAQs in bullet points or sections, that could lead to other relevant sections. The point here is to make your content short, sweet and straight to the point. Not only will this appease reader appetite, but it’s exactly what Google Hummingbird is looking for.

CTA and Contact Information

call to action, showcasing website

There are 3 major options when it comes to contact on a home page. You can either
1) Prominently showcase a phone number or email
2) Push visitors to fill out a contact form
3) Both
Either way, it’s most likely the most important thing to add a phone number somewhere that’s big and high up on the page. A real, number with a local area code will help give visitors a sense of location and also send a good signal to Google about your local business.

In many ways, some of these pieces of a home page are self-explanatory and straightforward. There are just a few new concepts that we have to keep in mind, such as scrolling on the home page and big headers. Check out our portfolio and give us a call at (323) 340-4010 for an analysis of your home page.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Does Your Website Content Qualify as “Your Money Your Life/YMYL”?

YMYL. It’s not the next YOLO, but something much more important and meaningful when it comes to your website content. Google loves preaching website quality but is often vague about what quality content is. Depending on your topic and field, the definition of a “quality” website can vary quite a bit. This is why it’s so surprising that Google has been so upfront about the quality of “Your Money Your Life Content” or YMYL. The name itself is confusing so this is what Google is referring to:

your-money-your-life

There are some pages for which PQ (Page Quality) is particularly important. We call these pages ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) pages. They are pages that can have an impact on your current or future well being (physical, financial, safety, etc.). YMYL pages should come from reputable websites and the content should be created with a high level of expertise and authority.

Google’s 5 Examples of YMYL

YMYL content pertains to websites or pages that:
1) Ask for personal information – Like the DMV website
2) Are used for monetary transactions – Such as e-commerce sites
3) Offer medical or health information – Think WebMD
4) Offer advice on major life decisions – Like a teen advice website
5) Offer advice on major life issues – Like an attorney website

Why Does Google Care?

The serious nature of YMYL content means that they can greatly affect your money and your life. Because of that, Google holds a much higher standard of quality. This helps searchers find authoritative sites with correct, helpful information that help them in their life choices. And Google does have the right idea with these guidelines. If you run a celebrity gossip site versus a bankruptcy how-to site, there has got to be a distinguishing factor on importance and credibility.

What You Can Do to Ensure Quality Content

As with all content (including that which does not qualify as YMYL), it’s important to always think about quality and whether you would want to read that content yourself. But Google has also been kind enough to provide a checklist of sorts. Make sure to include:

Clearly visible contact info: Contact information isn’t just helpful but it’s an important part of your local SEO efforts. There’s not a good reason to hide your contact info.
Good reputation: Sure, just about anyone can say that they are a reputable business. But what have you done to really earn that title? This is where you need to display professional affiliations, awards, endorsements or reviews.
High quality content, written by a credible author:  If you run a health or medical website, where are you getting the information and when was it written? Think of it as a scholarly paper that needs reputable citations and proof. There’s a big difference between soliciting advice on a health forum and searching for advice on a reputable health website.
A professional looking, regularly maintained/updated web site: Nothing’s worse than going to a legal or financial website that is a decade old. Many professional industries require updated information as laws are always changing.

Thoughts?

Like it or not, these guidelines are here to stay and could get even stricter for YMYL content. Luckily, these items are pretty much self-explanatory and appropriate for the type of content. If you look at it in the grand scheme of things, it probably couldn’t hurt to apply this to your site regardless of the YMYL category!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

5 Ways to Make Your Content Seem a Little Less Boring

No matter how you spin it, content in certain industries just seems so boring. It’s quite a challenge to make something like plumbing, insurance or real estate seem interesting to a wide audience.

puppy-yawn

1) Fake it until you make it – The golden rule is to set yourself up with this mentality. If you start to think negatively and dread writing, it will really show through in your content. There’s really nothing worse than reading mundane content with a vibe that somebody painstakingly typed it out to reach a certain word limit.

2) Rack up the social shares – Regular shares on all the big social networks will help your business gain exposure. More people are curating content for their own newsletters, weekly top reads and just things that grab their attention. By consistently showing that you blog, your brand will be out there with all the other “regulars”.  Getting those numbers counted toward your social share count is definitely a plus.

3) Think outside the box –  No matter what your niche is, you don’t always have to stick to the book. There is such thing is being over the top so you’ll have to know your limits. But human interest stories, and topics loosely related (or not related to your industry at all!) will help reach a wider audience… especially during the holidays. Think about those pictures of cute animals and sweet old couples that get Shared and Likes all over Facebook. Keep the viral factor of those things in mind! While it’s probably not a good strategy to do this with every webpage or blog post, it’s a change of pace that your site can use every now and again.

4) Look up the competition and do it better – Sometimes, you just can’t help it to feel bored while writing about a boring topic. This leads you to look at the competition or research related articles. One quick and easy way you can drum up some creativity is to search, let’s say a top 10 list for your industry. You can now create your own top 10 of how to do XYZ even better! This can also be an opportunity to dispel common myths and showcase what the reality, as you see it, is.

5) Visualize your content – Paint a vivid picture by incorporating yourself, telling anecdotes and adding personal details that make stories your own. It’s easy to tell when someone is writing about something they are passionate about, and telling you about it as if they were speaking with you. You can also get more ideas by using general topics and situations that people can relate to.

Using your very own pictures also help. Pictures of people, your staff and even pets! Bring on the human factor. Although they can be pretty nice, you don’t need to always rely on stock photos. Instagram and other photo filters and editors will help your content stand out with unique pictures that you’ve taken yourself.

Need help with creating an infographic? Infographics are a creative way to add a little oomph to accompany some good content. Don’t be afraid to think of more than just words when you’re trying to make your content a little more interesting and fun.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Improve Your Website with a Content Audit

Regular website audits are important but when’s the last time you focused solely on your website content? If you have a rather large website, content can easily go stale sitting around for months, if not years.

website content audit

Post Google Hummingbird and Penguin 2.1, it’s important to focus on fresh content that is SEO friendly in terms of semantic search. The good news is that this means that you don’t have to worry about adding tons of new content. Instead, focus on salvaging strong pages/URLs that you already have and optimize them for more relevant searches.

Where to Start?
Creating a sound structure is the first step. Combing through your website and organizing pages by topic can be a challenge, especially if you haven’t been maintaining your sitemap. It needs to be done! Completing a full content audit will force you to look at and analyze each page of your website.

Rankings are often a common indicator of the quality of your internal pages. If you have a page targeting a niche phrase or keyword that’s not ranking, it indicates that Google has manually or algorithmically filtered that content out.

What Pages You Should Keep and Those You Should Trash
You can start by looking at bounce rates and in-page Analytics. High bounce rates and low/no clicks on-page are a strong signal that the content isn’t helpful or relevant. Next, you should ask yourself if the URL is worth salvaging or to completely ditch it if it’s a page that is rehashing content elsewhere on your website. If bad links aren’t your problem, there are other issues to consider: duplicate content, overlapping content, keyword stuffed content, spun or thin content.

Pages you’ll want to keep include those that receive good traffic and rank for broad or specific terms. By looking at Analytics, you can get a better idea of how to shape that page to better serve the users that are landing. You’ll also want to see if you can salvage aged pages with search engine friendly URLs if possible.

Pages to ditch include those that are obviously spun or consist of little to no content. This tactic might have worked a few years ago but nowadays, they’re only dead weight to your site. Over time, pages might be added with little value to your website as a whole. If you look carefully, they might not be linked anywhere else on your site except for the sitemap. How useful can these really be? Instead, make your strong content stronger and get rid of these pages. Pages with manual penalties or unnatural links can be solved by letting the page die without any type of redirects. Eventually, these problem pages will be cleared from Google’s index.

Refreshing + Traffic/Engagement is the Key
In order to revitalize stale website content, rewriting content is almost always necessary. But that’s not the only step. Once you have fresh, unique content up, you’ll need traffic and user signals that indicate that you have a quality page. This is where social shares come into play. Sharing your website will bring in relevant clicks, shares and help your website gain authority.

Visit us on Google+: https://plus.google.com/118217410009310227549 and Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/emarketed for fresh content ideas for your website!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Custom Content Makes Customers Happy

Customizing content can be a difficult and time consuming task. But that hard work does pay off as a new infographic shows (see below). In a world of media overload, it’s becoming a challenge to catch a reader’s eye. And there’s no better way to do it than with custom content that is tailored to your target audience.

Old SEO vs. New Content Marketing
Nowadays, you might hear the phrase “content marketing” thrown around in place of SEO. This is a broader term used to encompass more than just links and content. Think social, authority, and interest factor. The increasing importance of customized content shows a shift in the search marketing landscape. It’s not all about manipulating links anymore. Unique content that is helpful and actually interesting is becoming a crucial part of your website’s relevance and ultimately, your search rankings.

The Importance of Custom Content
The better you’re able to customize content to your customers’ liking, the more successful your content will be. This means creating and discussing content that people actually want to read rather just creating content for the sake of search engines. Infographics, video content, blog posts and downloads are all examples of content that can be creatively customized.

How Content Marketing Helps Businesses
Content marketing can mean different things but in the end, it’s all about showcasing your knowledge and sharing it in meaningful ways. Content doesn’t just come in the form of writing and it doesn’t have to be disposable. This is part of a bigger picture, long term plan that will be useful for your business for years to come.

Take a look at Wishpond’s infographic and find out how businesses are benefitting from content marketing. Some other interesting findings:
– Articles with images get 94% more views that those without
– Organic search leads have a 14.6% close rate
– Blogs give sites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links
– 90% if consumers find custom content useful
– 68% of consumers spend time reading content from a brand they’re interested in

Check out the full infographic here and let us know your favorite statistic:
state-content-marketing-2013

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

How to Increase Time on Site

Decrease bounce rate. Increase click through rate. Maximize conversions. These are all common website goals that can be achieved by a common goal: increasing time spent on site. The more time a potential customer spends on your site, the more chances you have to give them what they’re looking for and reel them in.

Surely, you can’t expect to get more customers by only having boring pages full of text, can you? Here are some easy ways you can help keep readers on your site for a longer period of time:

Video
Website video marketing is often the “go-to” form of online marketing because it works so well. Videos are flexible and can be edited to fit the tone of your business and brand. From professional and informative to casual and fun, well-produced, relevant videos will definitely keep a reader’s interest for much longer than just words alone .

There are also many options for SEO, whether you decide to embed videos on your website or use a YouTube playlist or another third party video player. Don’t forget to use annotations and transcripts, which is also helpful for readers.

Other Multimedia
With regular ole content, videos don’t have to be the only form of multimedia. Get creative and use what’s best for your company and what is most convenient. Adding picture galleries, collages, embedded social media posts are one way to go. Don’t doubt the power of a good picture. Even stock photos are a cost effective option that will help make your site look more inviting and credible.

Links
Writing quality content is hard work and sometimes, it can be difficult to find something good to link to. Without links, your content isn’t connected to your other work or even the outside world. Remember, linking is good for your on-site SEO (but don’t overdo it!). It gives interested readers something more to see. Also note that you shouldn’t be stingy and be afraid to link out to other sites. You can also link to your other off-site properties, such as Facebook, Yelp, Tumblr, Pinterest etc.

Write More
When in doubt, write more! More content to read and digest means that readers are more likely to stay on your site for longer. If it’s really good, it might even mean repeat visits. But here’s where you need to practice discrepancy. More content doesn’t mean that you should add more garbage content. That’s why evergreen content like detailed tutorials are so popular, because long form content is effective in keeping readers happy. Look at it this way, instead of cranking out a dozen or so mediocre pages, you can put that time into a quality investment that will last on your website for years to come. The payoff for bringing in readers will be worth it and rankings don’t hurt either!

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Using Advertorials in SEO Content Marketing

Google has a long standing policy on how it views links from advertorials. The explicitly say that it goes against their policy to sell links that pass PageRank. First off, let’s review what advertorials actually are. Advertorials are content that is written like an editorial piece but they are really just content that  advertisers pay for to get published.

Clear Intentions
The intent behind these “stories” is to get links on major news sites and therefore pass off the link juice back to their site. And therein lies the problem. According to Google, these types of link have to be clearly marked as advertisements or sponsored. The links also need to have a rel=”nofollow” attribute attached to them to show search engines that they aren’t trying to game the algorithms.

The problem that Google (and readers) have with advertorials that they aren’t clearly marked as basically being paid ads. Without proper disclosure, it’s misleading to have content that intends to sell to readers. And publishers don’t have to be paid to violate Google’s guidelines. They also aren’t fond of publishers receiving gifts or other forms of compensation for publishing the stories.

Still Thinking of Using Advertorials?
Passing off advertorials as high quality content is a risky move and just when you think you can’t get caught, you can get slapped with an ugly penalty (see: Interflora). If this method of marketing still seems appealing, it’s important to go by Google’s rules and a) clearly mark content as sponsored and 2) follow through with the no follow attribute.

Advertorials aren’t a new tactic but Google has seen a rise in businesses taking this route, hence all the articles and videos against advertorials. In the long run, informative and quality content will help your website’s staying power and we aren’t talking about it through the form of advertorials. The difference is that advertorials tend to be more sales-y and self serving, whereas “evergreen” content is actually helpful.

Google’s Official Stand
Check out what Matt Cutts has to say about advertorials in the video above and let us know if you think it’s fair or not.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Is Your Content Magnetic?

If you’re looking for a new outlook on creating quality content creation, you don’t have to look further than an everyday object for a little bit of inspiration – the magnet.

Magnetic content is content that’s so good that it can’t help but attract more readers. And like a magnet, the end result can rub off on other people so that they’ll engaged and want to share it. Magnetic content doesn’t have to be a flashy term reserved solely for something fancy like an infographic or book download. Besides, how often do you look for the latest news to see a simple blog, article , or tutorial? Also remember, magnets range in size and even the smallest ones can be powerful.

Here are a few examples of magnetic content that you can begin with today:
– top 10 list
– how-to video
– strongly opinionated editorial piece
– personal and revealing story
– non traditional interview
– even cute animal pictures!

These are just a few generic examples, but you’ll need to ask yourself:

Is it relevant? Think about the relevancy of your content in terms of your: customers, competitors, industry and even your own business objective. If all these aren’t checked off on your list, chances are, it’s not as magnetic as you think it is.

This can be a tedious step that involves research, listening and being tuned in yourself. Being active on social media and the latest news helps!

Is it significant? Creating significant content with a purpose means being current and aware of popular trends. This can involve: current events, important local news, seasonal trends, pop culture events, and other trending topics. Be in the now and explore Google Trends for more writing inspiration.

Is it shareable? This is where your networking skills on social media sites matters the most. Having social media sharing buttons on your site is crucial, and it’s important to understand where most of your readership lies. Don’t overwhelm readers with a flurry of share buttons but showcase ones that are most useful for you and your readers. Infographics make it easy with an embed code. Slideshows are popular and you can easily add a shorted URL that you can use to track (bit.ly or goo.gl)

Does it inspire?The main idea behind magnetic content is that you want to share a compelling story. You want readers to have a reason for reading, sharing and feel inspired to do something. This can be a conversation starter and fuel social engagement that is important and relevant to your brand.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

4 Common Content Problems & What to do About Them

As many people have been saying, content copywriting and marketing is the “new SEO”. Although it may sound less complicated, there are quite a few obstacles you can still run into. Here are a few problems and some fixes to help you over come them:

1) Thin content – Older web pages and e-commerce sites often have this problem. This might mean having a page only filled with a list of links or pictures with very little to no actual content.

Fix: Let’s say you’re selling something like a dog sweater. You can spruce up the thin content on the page by adding a catchy title, relevant sub headings, a brief summary/description paragraph, and user generated content (like reviews). This added content will search engines a better signal that it’s more than just a filler page. It will also engage readers and encourage them to stay on page for longer. A good example of this is Amazon, think of all the different things to click and read while browsing for a single item.

2) Irrelevant content – Your content may be well-written and unique but why aren’t people contacting your business? Or they might be calling for the wrong reason or leaving as soon as they land. This is mostly a writing issue that can be fixed with the right analysis.

Fix: A good indicator that visitors aren’t getting what they want can be seen by analyzing your bounce rate. There are many things that can turn readers away and Webmaster Tools and Analytics can help you better understand what users are searching to get to a certain page and why they might be leaving. Check out Google’s Content Experiments for more ways to optimize and test your content.

3) Static content – Do you have content on your site that hasn’t been updated in years? This is not a good signal to search engines and definitely not helpful to your readers. Although it helps to consistently add new content, it’s also worth it to go back to important landing pages and make updates every couple of months.

Fix: Having an on-site blog can help show search engines and customers that you’re always adding new, quality content to your site. Adding a social networking share buttons on web pages also helps with social signals and can give old pages that are already ranking well an added boost. Having social shares associated with your pages is an indicator that it is relevant and worth sharing.

4) Duplicate content: If you’ve hired and switched marketing companies in the past, it’s important to re-evaluate old content and see if it’s unique or duplicated across multiple sites. I’ve encountered pages that are 90% and up duplicates of other sites! This is not good at all, especially when it comes to Google Penguin updates.

Fix: There is no shortcut but to identify and re-write the duplicate content. Tools like CopyScape can help you find duplicate content. You can also copy a paragraph from a page and search for it with quotes and see if that exact blurb pops up anywhere else outside of your site. If it’s the issue of other sites or scrapers taking your content and outranking your original content, it might be worth it to file a DMCA complaint.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.

Marketing Lessons from Cracked.com

You might have heard of a little site called Cracked.com. Or perhaps, you’ve spent countless hours being roped into reading article after article. Perhaps these articles can be considered a “waste of time” but some argue that the content is actually useful and educational. Regardless, you have to admit that it’s catchy. So, here are some marketing takeaways you can learn from Cracked.

Eye-catching headlines are click-worthy: Where else would you find articles like this? “6 Real People With Mind-Blowing Mutant Superpowers”, “6 Insane (But Convincing) Fan Theories About Kids’ Cartoons”, “6 Horrifying Implications of the Harry Potter Universe”. How could you not want to click these articles? Posts on the Huffington Post and celebrity tabloid magazines are also a good example of getting people to want to read.

Deliver what is actually promised: Sometimes, over-exaggerated headlines can seem like a scam because they don’t really deliver. This is especially true with spammy ads for weight loss or anti-aging solutions. However, Cracked gives readers exactly what they expect and be specific as possible. For example, with an article like “6 Lies About the Human Body You Learned in Kindergarten”, there shouldn’t be a surprise to what you expect.

Know what your readers want and offer them more: The best/worst part about Cracked are the recommended articles at the bottom. Even if you just came to the site to read 1 article, chances are that you’ll stay even longer when you get a glimpse of these other articles.
You can also do this by posting related videos are responses to each other on YouTube or listing related recommendations like Amazon’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”. In other words, give them a good reason to stay longer.

Be mobile friendly: By just looking at the desktop version of the site, you can tell that Cracked is mobile device friendly. There are well-organized categories and catchy pictures to go with every article. They have an iPad app that makes it easy to browse for articles. Some articles are actually optimized for mobile while others lead you directly to the main site.
This is something you can do with your mobile website. Make sure to read out related blog post: Mobile Web Design Tips for 2013.

So, check out Cracked and have some fun. But don’t forget to notice the details that keep readers coming back for more so that you can implement the ideas into your own site.

Matt Ramage is founder of Emarketed a web marketing agency located in Los Angeles. He loves coffee, good design, and helping businesses improve their look and getting found on the Internet.