Elements of Effective Meta Descriptions

meta descriptionLet’s face it, meta descriptions aren’t always a priority when it comes to SEO.
The main reason optimization of meta tags and descriptions are neglected is because it doesn’t  directly influence your search engine rankings – when it comes to Google’s search algorithm, anyways.

Optimizing your meta descriptions IS still important because it affects your clickthrough rate, not to mention it’s significance in appealing to potential customers. There’s no way you can avoid the fact that meta descriptions matter. Why else would there be a Diagnostics section of Webmaster Tools, where you can edit duplicate descriptions and tags? Google is doing you a favor by telling you, hey – you might want to take a look at these and fix it!

Here are a few things you should try to aim for when writing unique meta descriptions for the pages on your website:

  • Keep descriptions short. There is no “magic number” when it comes to the correct amount of of characters, although experts could argue endlessly about it. So, I like to keep it in the 150-160 character range. Short, sweet and to the point, please.
  • Spell check. I’ve seen and been put off by many meta descriptions with poor, incomplete sentences and even misspellings. Do you really want to lose customers this way?
  • Focus on one keyword. At most, I like to put one desired keyword with a second, slightly different variation in each meta description. There’s no use in overstuffing your description with different variations of the same word. Don’t get me started on intentional misspellings!
  • Include a call to action. “Visit our site for more information on..” “Call us to speak with..” “Follow us on Twitter @…” “Visit us at..” If you don’t know what you want your customers to do, how should they know? Do yourselves both a favor and give them a hint!

Finally, check out Google’s section and SEO Moz’s article on how to improve your meta descriptions and more.

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.

Don’t Put All Your SEO Eggs in One Basket

We’ve all heard the idiom, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Sure, you wouldn’t put your savings all into one investment, so the same principle should apply when it comes to your SEO strategy.

When people start learning about search engine optimization for their site, it’s easy to get blindfolded (so to speak) and focus too much on what the search engines see, and not what customers want to see. Google’s search algorithm is complicated and always changing, and there’s no one right way to “beat” it, so that you can come out #1 across the board.

I’ve seen many people and companies try put all their hope into ONE aspect of online marketing and being so upset when it doesn’t come out as planned. SEO is a great long term asset but there IS such a thing as going overboard in optimizing.

The same thing applies when it comes to meta descriptions and tags. Keyword research is important in helping you find and focus on the phrases that your customers are actually looking for. Instead, some people might skip this step and just throw in all the keyword and different variations that they can think of in hopes that ONE is a good one. SEO is not a random game of luck and using too many different keywords isn’t helpful.

Many think that SEO consists of two parts: one of research (science) and the other of customer appeal (art). Although search engines play a powerful part in your organic SEO rankings, you can’t forget about the human side of your businesses because customers are the ones who will ultimately make or break your success.

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.

Tracking Site Speed for Landing Page Optimization

load time

Did you know that Google Analytics gives you insight on Site Speed? Pay per click marketing is all about effective landing page optimization and this feature can help tremendously with understanding how to improve your PPC campaigns.

While we’re all so concerned about the type of content and calls to action on landing pages (and rightfully so), it’s also important to consider the role that page load time plays into your PPC campaign’s success. In the end, this will affect the user experience so that they stay or bounce away.

Looking at Site Speed data will help you get a better understanding of how page load times can affect quality score. These reports will have a thorough breakdown of what your slowest loading pages are. You’ll also be able to see the types of browser and internet connection your visitors have. If most of your visitors are using Internet Explorer 3 on 56K dial-up, that could be an issue. The best thing about having this information at your fingertips is that it gives you an opportunity to fix problems and create faster loading landing pages that are helpful to your visitors.

If you’ve used the Site Speed report before, what do you think?

To learn more about adding this tracking feature to your site(s) check out this article from Google.
*Remember, this tracking snippet goes in BEFORE the </head> portion of your code.

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.

Your Local Search Optimization Checklist for Success

checklistWhen it comes to search engine optimization for small businesses, local search is more important than ever. If your content isn’t focused on geo-specific keywords, it’s time to follow this simple checklist that will help you succeed. Remember, this content spans across your website, blogs, and even social media profiles!

  1. Are you on Google, Yahoo, Bing and Yelp local listings? If not, get on that NOW! It’s free and fill out as much information as possible. Descriptions are a great place to sprinkle in some of your local keywords for that extra SEO boost.
  2. Get visual. How about some pictures of your place of business or neighborhood to spruce up your site or social profile? Adding visuals of your business and/or employees adds a personal touch to your products/services. It will also give your potential customers a chance to “meet” you.
  3. Emphasize your local loyalty. Wherever possible, be sure to include a local phone number with the area code for your location.  I’ve seen plenty of SEO and web design sites with 800 numbers, no physical address – essentially making it impossible to find out where they’re located. No thank you – next.
  4. Use the right keywords. And I can’t stress this one enough! You’ll want to be using relevant keywords to your business that have a good amount of traffic so that you can capture some of that volume. What’s the point of ranking #1 for a term that  only gets 100 or so hits a month? Another thing, be thorough when choosing your location keywords. Are we talking about Glendale, CA or Glendale, AZ?
  5. Track your results. For the more SEO-savvy, SEJ just came out with a helpful article about how to track your progress.

If you think these extra steps are time consuming, think again. Properly optimized content will be a valuable asset for your business in the long run. What are some of your favorite, easy tips for local search optimization?

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.

SEO and PPC: Confused About Where to Start?

confusedIf you’re thinking about how to maximize your internet marketing budget by using search engine optimization or pay per click marketing for the first time, the decision can be a confusing one.

Since most people feel that SEO and PPC are two different strategies, they often feel that they can only go with one option. And this is where most people get it wrong – SEO and PPC work best when combined to help you meet a common goal at the end.

But how does it work? If you’re skeptical about using these two services at once, here’s a better way to look at how the two help each other out.

The Groundwork of SEO

When you start with SEO, it’s a permanent asset that will help your website content become more visible to search engines and targeted visitors. It’s best to have a list of desirable keywords that you’re targeting so that you know how to precisely track your progress. Depending on your industry, it may be more difficult to compete with certain terms. While SEO can only do so much to give you an overview of the best keywords to use, PPC can be a powerful tool to narrow down that list.

Pay Per Click Helps Your Optimization Strategy

As we’ve talked about before, broad search terms tend to be the most competitive ones. This usually means that they’re more expensive when it comes to cost per click. Using PPC’s insight on longer tail searches might look at less traffic but it will certainly help you reach more qualified customers who know and want what they’re looking for. Customer preference and search behaviors fluctuate and PPC can also help you see which areas of your business you should focus on promoting. No more wasted effort here!

A Recipe of Success

Establishing a strong SEO reputation by consistently creating unique content will help your site in the long run. This can also improve your website’s quality score and give you better leverage when (and if) you do decide to start with your PPC campaign. A good pay per click landing page = happy customer. In the end, SEO and PPC shouldn’t really been seen as two entirely different strategies, as they work well together to help create a more cohesive marketing goal in the end.

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 Reasons Social Media Just Isn’t Working for You

social media failMany people think that social media is a cure-all to their business woes. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you’re  struggling with social media efforts, it doesn’t mean that you should give up. But rather, take the time to look at some top reasons why it might not be working out for you:

  1. You think social media can replace blogging and SEO content.
    As I’d like to think of it, a little blogging can go along way. While a little time spent on social media isn’t very effective. Your SEO content is a permanent asset that will help you as the days/weeks/years go by while the timely for social media is very time-sensitive and more fleeting. Take a look at how they can work together instead of choosing one over the other.
  2. You don’t have enough time and lack management.
    The briefness and spontaneity of social media updates make it seem so “easy”. But, for social media to be most effective, you need to involve as many people/departments as possible. From sales, web designers, writers to your CEO, it’s important to have a coordinated view of your social media plan and goals.
  3. You don’t know where to go.
    Social media news and usage can often mean information overload. Instead of trying to diversify and being everywhere halfheartedly at once, why not try a few platforms and specialize?
  4. You might need to reevaluate your business model.
    As the sayings go, you can’t put lipstick on a pig. You can’t make a racehorse out of a donkey and you can’t polish a… well, you get the point. If you have problems with your business and are looking at social media as a way to put a superficial spin on it, chances are that it won’t work – for long anyways.

The best thing about social media is its potential to amplify your online presence. Trying things out for yourself and experimenting doesn’t hurt and you can always learn from your mistakes and successes. It also helps that you can take a good look at what your competitors are and aren’t doing as you try your hand at the social media game.

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.

Are You the Tortoise or the Hare in the SEO Game?

SEO and speedMany people don’t understand the power of organic SEO. Like the tortoise and the hare, you can look at SEO in two different ways:

  1. Hare: Going fast all at once
  2. Tortoise: Taking it slow and steady

If you’re looking for a quick gain with SEO, you could be tempted to churn out pages of content with keywords strewn throughout. This might give you an initial boost but competitors with a more steady approach can creep up on you.
You’ll probably also be skimping out on the quality of the content that you put out. Instead, you can use your speed with a more focused approach: after you jot down your ideas for content, have someone else edit it and schedule the content to be released throughout the month. If you expend all your energy in a short amount of time, you’ll run the risk of burning out and wasting your efforts.

If you believe in taking the slow route, you’re on your way to building a strong foundation for SEO content down the road. By doing keyword research and writing about interesting topics, you’ll attract more clicks and readers. However, it is easy for the process to get too drawn out. At first, you might set a goal of blogging once a week and that slows down to every other week and maybe, once a month if you’re lucky. Being too slow could also mean that you’re missing out blogging about recent news topics/stories that are related to your field.

Unlike Aesop’s famed fable, there really is no “right” or “wrong” speed to adapt when it comes to SEO – but more of a mentality. Consistency and quality are important for SEO content and when you keep those two things in mind, you’ll go farther than just relying on a time frame to reach your destination.

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.

Why Choose Tumblr?

What does Nic Cage as Everyone, Newsweek, and Scanwiches have in common? They’re all Tumblr blogs!

We’ve talked about simple blogging platforms with Posterous (see our previous post) but many bloggers are choosing Tumblr. Just take a look at their home page and you can see it’s as easy to sign up and make your first post:

Tumblr

Whereas WordPress is better suited for content and search engine visibility (with all the plugins and bells and whistles), Tumblr is for a *new* breed of blogger. That is, bloggers who rely on unique posts AND pictures to engage their visitors. An interesting thing you’ll notice is that most Tumblr blogs consist of picture posts.

What was commonly thought as being not SEO friendly has become the high point for Tumblr, as you can easily upload any type of media multimedia to your blog. Team Tumblr themselves has described this process as being “effortless”.

If you’re still confused about where Tumblr lies in the blogosphere, I like to think of it as a microblogging platform with highly customizable capabilities (Google Analytics and third party applications) PLUS a very social side. You can invite other users to make contributions on your blog, follow other users to see their updates (ala Facebook and Twitter) and even make updates via AIM.

As a blogger, it’s important to stay focused on your craft of writing and posting regularly. Tumblr’s main benefit is that it’s user and social media-friendly. It’s simplicity, especially for the socially-savvy will help take away the distractions that may arise with WordPress so that you can get more work done, so to speak.
If you blog, what’s your favorite or least favorite platform and why?

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.

Posterous for Simplicity

PosterousIf you haven’t heard of Posterous, it’s a blogging platform similar to Tumblr. As for simplicity, many users say that it takes the hassle out of blogging and that it’s even easier to use than WordPress!

Whether you’re thinking about switching platforms or starting a brand new blog, it’s helpful to take a look at why Posterous is becoming a popular choice amongst bloggers today.

  1. Design: Like WordPress and Tumblr, you also have a wide variety of choices when it comes to your blog’s theme and it’s also fully customizable.
  2. SEO – While Posterous isn’t exactly known for being search engine friendly, some say that the ‘constant theme’ is a plus. Since your pages will all look the same, this will help search engines crawl your blog and easily tell the difference between design and content.
  3. Social media integration – Posterous is extremely flexible when it comes to connecting to your social media profiles. Have you ever tried connecting something from your WordPress blog to Facebook? It’s do-able but rifling through plugins is time consuming and takes away from your blogging time. With Posterous, you can connect to Facebook, Twitter,  Flickr and more in one easy step.
  4. Simple blogging – Most bloggers use Posterous because it makes it easier for them to blog. There’s no need to deal with complicated plugins, updates and errors that can pop up in WordPress. With an email option, bloggers can collect any thoughts that pop up and post it as fast as they can fire off an email.

Posterous seems like a great light-weight blogging platform for those who don’t want to deal with the hassles of other services. While it may not have as many tools for internal customization and help with SEO, it’s social media integration is far ahead of WordPress and Blogspot. The good thing is that it’s free, so if you’re an avid blogger looking for new things – why not give it a try?

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.

Optimizing Your Facebook Posts (Part 1)

You’re on Facebook and making posts. But, did you ever stop to see IF your posts are even being seen? Before we explore how to make the most out of those Facebook posts, it’s important to understand the method behind it.

The image above should look familiar. When you log onto Facebook, your friends’ posts or organized by ‘Top News’ or by ‘Most Recent’ posts.

Personally, I always like to view Most Recent posts. But according to an article on Social Media Today, a staggering 95% of people only view posts on the Top News feed, missing other posts that don’t rank as high. By default, posts are automatically organized by Top News.

So, did you know that Facebook has an algorithm for ranking these posts? It’s called Edgerank and consists of three main factors:

  1. Affinity – this relies on the relationship between you and the other user. If you guys interact more on Facebook (messages, wall posts, profile views), your friend’s “affinity score” will be higher than other people you don’t really talk to.
  2. Weight – Facebook gives a different weight of importance to things that you can engage in (Like, comment, tag).
  3. Time – Facebook is pretty much based in real-time so it’s not surprising that older posts become less important.

Knowing this should give you a better idea of what shows up on your main Top News feed and why. This is especially important for businesses because it’s only estimated that 40% business wall posts show up on Top News feeds.

Make sure to stay tuned for our next post later this week as we explore different ways you can optimize your Facebook wall posts!

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.