7 Steps to Optimize Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

I’m a content manager; my background is in public relations with a little bit of marketing strategy and graphic design. I’m sitting here thinking, “What do I know about online optimization!?” I’m not a web design guru; I’m no software engineer or web developer.

And then it occurs to me, if I can get the basics done, like keyword research, I can easily optimize those blog posts I write by using a simple tool that is built into our WordPress dashboard, Yoast. I’m sure there are other SEO plugins that do similar things, but Yoast is the one I know so Yoast is the way it goes.

Now that you know my secret tool, here is a step-by-step guide to optimizing your blog posts:

Step 1:

Identify the keywords you’d like to optimize for. This process starts with a basic idea of what your organization (or your client’s) covers, and then you can dig down into the specific relevant phrases that people are using to search for your organization’s product or services.

Step 2:

Pick a focus. Don’t try to optimize one post for all of the keywords you’ve identified. Pick a few that correlate and make sense and then delegate the rest into groups of similar terms as well (those can be for your next post, and then the one after that.)

Step 3:

Write your post. Try to use the exact phrases that you’ve identified in your keyword search, without sounding forced. You don’t want optimizing your blog post to make it unreadable. For example, did you notice I have used a version of the word “optimize” four times already?

Step 4:

Proofread. This isn’t really necessary to optimize your blog post, but a personal preference that you ensure what you’re publishing makes sense. (Thanks!)

Step 5:

Tell the web what your post is! This is where Yoast comes in.

  1. Enter your focus keyword into the spot that says “Focus keyword.” This is the specific keyword or phrase that you used the most throughout the post.
  2. Write your SEO title. You might have an awesomely clever title, but if it doesn’t say what your post is about, your SEO won’t be as strong for your blog post. Use this space to write a title that is enticing and clear, and preferably that includes the focus keyword. This is what will show up in search results when someone does an online search for your keyword.
  3. Develop the meta description. This should have your focus keyword in it, and be in complete sentences. Typically, I like to copy a sentence or two that includes my keyword straight from the post. This is what will show up under your SEO title to give online searchers more information about your post. It should be short, sweet and to the point.

Step 6:

yoast seoMake sure you get the “green light” on your SEO check provided by Yoast. If you don’t, go back and identify the places that can be improved.
The plug-in will show you if your keyword is being used in each of these places for maximum optimization:

  • Article heading
  • Page Title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta Description

If you’ve included your keyword in all of these places, you’ll get an SEO green light.

Green light means go!

Step 7:

Publish and share!

Bonus:

Here are some bonus tips to ensure your blog post is optimized to its max potential:

  • Use your target keyword more than once.
  • Incorporate your target keyword into your URL.
  • Include an image that has your target keyword in the “alt text.”
  • Pin that image as the “featured image.”
  • Link to other blog posts on your site and/or link to other influencers’ content (they will get a pingback to notify them that their content is being shared).
  • Apply relevant tags and categories to your post.
  • If you can, use your target keyword in a heading somewhere in your post.

So I’m not an SEO expert or web development guru, but with a little research and help from a plug-in, I can optimize my blog posts with the big guns. Do you have any other tips or best practices to share for optimizing posts?

IMG_2750Kala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels and tweeting about marketing, coffee, and cats @tadasunshine.

5 Mobile Web Usability Rules You Can’t Afford To Ignore

5 Mobile Web Usability Rules You Can'tIf content is king then your website is its kingdom and no matter how great your content is, if your website is not providing the users a smooth user experience, your visitors are going to abandon it for sure!

But how can you make sure your website users get a rich and smooth web experience? This article tells you how to give your mobile web users a smooth experience. I will teach you the basic and the best of 5 mobile website usability rules that you can’t afford to miss. Follow these mobile web usability rules and craft a nice mobile web user experience to your visitors. Let’s get started!

Rule No. 1: Don’t go after every plugin you come across!

Plugins are meant to add usability to your website, but that shouldn’t turn out to be a roadblock for your users. Before you install any plugin or add-on, make sure it is worth adding and is going to add value to your website and thus adding value to your visitor’s user experience. More importantly, note that most mobile devices do not support plugins and also remember that plugins are also known for crashing, hanging and slowing down the websites and if not chosen properly, can prove to be vulnerable too. Give it a thought: Just because it is free doesn’t mean it should be in your bucket!

Rule No. 2: Use viewport properly to cater screen-friendly content

What’s a viewport?

Viewport gives web designers capabilities to decide on how to render the content across different screen sizes.

Without viewport, a typical web page will be rendered at a full, desktop width scaled to fit the device screen size. Configuring and defining viewport in your CSS allows you to choose and render web page’s size and content according to the device’s screen size, which can also be called a screen-friendly view.

Rule No. 3: Ditch the annoying horizontal scrollbar by sizing content to viewport

Horizontal scrollbar is one of the things that annoy mobile site users most. It is always advisable to ditch the horizontal scroll bar from your mobile-friendly site.

Here’s how to ditch it without changing much of your code on web pages:

  1. Different devices come with different screen resolutions hence pay close attention in defining viewports for various screen sizes.
  2. Also, please note that CSS pixel-wide width may also vary in viewport and hence your page content shouldn’t be dependent on a specific viewport width to render well.
  3. Avoid setting up large CSS widths in absolute terms can widen your elements unnecessarily, especially on small devices. Alternatively, you can use relative width values such as width:100% etc.
  4. Avoid setting up absolute positioning values that may cause the element to render outside the viewport on smaller screens. You can use CSS media queries to apply different styling rules for varied screen sizes.

Rule No. 4: Place tap targets properly; size and proximity matters!

When you are building web for mobile, you have to consider space constraint and usability for every element of the web page and this applies to tap targets (buttons, links etc.) too.

Problem: If your tap targets are placed too close with each other and are small, users will have frustrating web experience as they might end up clicking other, unwanted tap targets.

Solution: Keep button size reasonable good. Have good proximity among buttons so that users can tap them without their finger pad overlapping other tap targets.

Pro Tip: Android’s UI guidelines recommend a minimum tap target size of roughly 7mm (48 CSS pixels), compared to an average adult finger pad size of about 10mm wide.

Rule No. 5: Fonts size also matters to offer a good readability experience

And just like the distance, size too is a concern for tap targets. Too small or too large fonts can also leave your users frustrated so make sure you use legible font sizes to offer your users a good readability experience.

Here are few ways you can use to define font size in your CSS, follow the one that fits you best:

Font size can be specified via four common units: pixels (px), points (pt), EMs (em), and percent (%).

  1. Pixels are “CSS pixels” and vary based on device size and density.
  2. Points are defined in relation to pixels. A single pixel is 0.75 points.
  3. EMs and percent are “relative” units: they are relative to the inherited size and properties of the font being used. 1 EM is equivalent to 100%.

Pro Tip: Configure a viewport to make sure fonts will be scaled as expected across various devices.

Once you’ve configured a viewport, implement the Google’s following recommendations:

  1. Use a base font size of 16 CSS pixels.
  2. Adjust the size as needed based on properties of the font being used.
  3. Use sizes relative to the base size to define the typographic scale.
  4. Text needs vertical space between its characters and may need to be adjusted for each font. The general recommendation is to use the browser default line-height of 1.2em.
  5. Limit the number of fonts used and the typographic scale: too many fonts and font sizes lead to messy and overly complex page layouts.

 

The mobile is altogether a different sphere than a traditional web experience and so are the needs of your mobile web users. Going after traditional web guidelines won’t help you much on your mobile web domain. Apply these usability rules and recommendations given by Google and you will on your way to cater a smooth and silk web experience to your mobile website users!

moinMoin Shaikh an open source tech lover. By profession, he is a social media manager, webmaster and web analyst for an Australia-based IT firm – Intesols. He looks after analysis, design & development and promotion parts of websites. I also contribute for Mozilla Firefox. Love to blog and tweet often! Connect with me on Twitter @moingshaikh

7 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your PPC Guy: An Easy-To-Use Checklist

As a small business owner, you know your business. But do you have time to master PPC? If not, you’ll want to hire someone to do this for you.

That’s why I’ve created this checklist — to help you pick the right PPC person and make sure they get the ROI what you want.

There are 7 critical things I’ve learned in my 14 years of optimizing PPC accounts. Having these at hand helps you get what you need out of your PPC guy. Let’s get started…

#1: Make Sure Your PPC Guy Uses Your Adwords Account For Their Work

If your PPC guy doesn’t use your Adwords account, you may not “own” the work they do for you. If you change providers, everything they’ve done for you may be lost.

Before hiring any PPC expert, ask, “Are you going to upload the campaigns you create to my account?” “Yes” is the only right answer for two reasons…

  • You “own” the work they do.  This way, if you change providers, you can just remove their access and keep the work that’s been done.
  • And it increases transparency.  If it’s in your account, you can check on the status of the campaigns without having to bug your PPC guy. You just login and do a spot check.

Bottom line: get this or walk away.

#2: Verify How Much Work They’re Actually Doing

ppc1It’s crucial you confirm the work they’re actually doing. Here’s how…

Once a week, go to “Change History” in your Adwords Account and go to “Tools”, and click on “Campaigns”. Then, click on “Change History”.

A log of what work has been done will come up. Then you can confirm the changes are what you agreed to.

#3: Ensure They Avoid Broad Match Keywords (With One Exception)

Adwords has five “match types” you can use for the keywords you’re targeting)…

  • Broad match
  • Modified broad match
  • Exact match
  • Phrase match
  • Negative keywords (I’ll discuss this later in the post)

Make sure your PPC contractor is using some combination of modified broad match, exact match and phrase match only.

A campaign with just broad match keywords lets Google give you the “kitchen sink” approach to showing your ads. This will dilute your ROI and hurt results.

The exception is when you’re marketing to a small to mid-size geographic region. In this case, your market will be smaller and you may have to use broad match to generate enough views of your ads (impressions).

#4: Confirm They’re Adding Negative Keywords

Adding Negative Keywords should be added to curb unrelated traffic. It will:

  • improve the quality of your traffic
  • reduce wasted spend and
  • improve your ROI
  • and boost your click-thru-rate (CTR).

Make sure this is part of your PPC guy’s plan and then confirm he does it each week.

#5: Insist They Specialize In PPC Only

Change is constant in SEO and Adwords. That means an expert in either has to specialize in either one to stay current and provide value.

No one can be really amazing at both. The bottom line:

If you want an SEO guy, hire an SEO guy. If you want a PPC guy, hire a PPC guy. As the saying goes, “Jack of all trades, master of none.”

#6: Verify Their Adwords Certification Is Current & Valid

When hiring a PPC guy, you’ll really want to make sure they’re Adwords certified. This means they’ve taken and passed a series of demanding tests from Google to prove their know-how.

So, before hiring someone, ask them for a link to their Adwords certification. Make sure it’s valid and current. This avoids problems down the road.

#7: Approve All Keyword & Campaign Creation Steps

No PPC guy will know as much about the intricacies of your business as you do.

This means that he’s going to have to rely on your expertise to guide his research and campaign creation. Therefore, make sure that you get to review and approve the keywords they’re going to use.

On top of that, make sure you get to look at and approve the campaign before it goes live (and you start spending money).

You’ll probably catch little things that they missed because of your industry knowledge. I’ve seen this save clients a lot of money.

What All This Means For You

Use this checklist and you can make sure of two things:

  1. you’ve picked the right PPC guy
  2. once hired, you can make sure he’s delivering on his promises

You’re ready to start succeeding at Adwords!
Tim GogginTim Goggin is the founder of recessionRebirth, Inc. – a PPC & Facebook consulting agency. They help small- to medium-sized businesses create money-making ads, generate & convert more leads and accelerate the growth of their ROI. Download his free supplementary checklist, “10 More Ways To Get The Most Of Your PPC Guy” here. Once signed up, claim a free Adwords audit (limited to first 9 businesses that apply).

 

Weekend Favs July Eighteen

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

sailing

Good stuff I found this week:

Flutter – Create recurring tweets for dynamic content

missinglett_r – Naturally automates social posting of your blog content over time

Katch – Tool to aggregate and feature your Periscope and Meerkat streams

18 Point Checklist for the Perfect Website Redesign Launch

website launch

We’re in the process of a total redesign and restructure of the Duct Tape Marketing site so I’ve recently written about some of the processes we use to ensure a smooth redesign. I’ve been blogging since 2003 and have 1os of thousands of backlinks and lots of pages that rank in long tail searches, so I’m proceeding very cautiously with technical aspects. You can read my checklist on preparing for redesign here.

Now that we are getting close to hitting the launch button we’ve moved into checking and double checking what works and what doesn’t work. Ideally, a good design team like the one we are working with will do all of this checking ahead of the launch, but hey, this is my livelihood so I’m not taking any chances.

Use this checklist with you design team as a way to make sure all of the relevant details are looked after before you push your redesigned site live. My site is built on WordPress using the Genesis Theme framework so some of these elements are specific to WordPress.

1) Check your Spelling and Grammar – You can use a tool like Respelt to scan the entire site and then Grammarly to work on individual pages.

2) Test in multiple Browsers and mobile – See what your site looks like on your phone and in Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Browser Stack is a great paid option.

3) Test your Links – Use a tool like Screaming Frog spider to see if any of your links are broken.

4) Do some Speed testingUse a tool Pingdom Tools to see how fast the site is loading and what might be slowing it down.

5) Title and Description – Get a quick snapshot of all of your title and description attributes via Screaming Frog and be on the lookout for titles that are too long (keep under 55 characters), too generic, or duplicate. The WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast is a must for this going forward.

6) Check Image alt descriptions – alt descriptions tell the search engines what an image is all about. Use Screaming Frog spider to check and make sure you have images optimized.

7) Test Forms – Manually test every form on your site to make sure it is functioning as planned.

8) Favicon – test to see that your Favicon is showing browser

9) Tracking code – Make sure your Google Analytics and other tracking codes for things like AdWords, Facebook Ads, or retargeting is properly installed and functioning.

10) Check NAP with Schema – verify that your name, address and other contact data is correct and correctly formatted with Schema code – Check out schema.org for information on this.

11) Check your 404 pages – Type in a non-existent page URL on your site to get a 404 error page. Ideally you’ll want to use a custom page for this that has an error message that’s better than the default server error.

12) Check your 301 redirects – If you had to create a new URL structure, test a few key pages from your old site URL structure to make sure they are redirecting as expected.

14) Check your XML site map – If you are using a tool like the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, you’ll get your site map URL from the plugin. Make sure it’s rendering correctly.

15) Do a Plugin audit – have you kept some plugins and ditched others? Make sure all your desired plugins are active and up to date and make sure those that you are no longer actively using are deleted from the site.

16) Test Social contact – Test out all of your social icons to make sure they are taking people where you want them to go.

17) Email migration – if applicable make sure your email is set up properly with you new host.

18) Point Your DNS – Now that you’ve tested the major elements of you site redesign it’s time to push it live or point the domain to your new hosting nameservers.

Once you have your site up and running and you’re adding new content use my Perfect Blog Post Checklist to make sure every new piece of content is fully optimized.

 

 

 

13 Point Checklist for the Perfect Website Redesign

Website redesign

I rarely encounter a business that simply doesn’t yet have a website. Regardless of the bizarre reports that still contend 50% of all small business owners don’t have a website. (See Inc)

Now, what I do encounter most of the time is a small business that needs a total site makeover or redesign. It’s not that they were just awful in the first place, (well, some were) it’s that every site, just like every business, needs to evolve. That means if your current site design is around two years old it needs some attention.

But, before you rush out and give a designer the keys to your site, take steps to ensure you don’t unknowingly undue all the good you’ve accomplished with your previous site.

Eager designers don’t mean harm when they create a new design, they just need more information, and that’s where you come in. Before you even visit a WordPress theme designer arm yourself with some information that can help them make good decisions about what stays and what goes in your current configuration or take the risk of losing all that hard earned search traffic.

Now, I’m not suggesting you simply hang on to SEO gains over things like better navigation, visitor usability, and conversion, but don’t throw everything out just for something that looks more modern.

Use this checklist as you embark on a site redesign as a way to capture all existing elements and consider content needs, edits and issues before the project starts.

  1. Do you have access to Google Analytics? – I know, weird question, but you might be surprised how many sites have analytics installed the owners have no idea how to access the data.
  2. Do you have access to Google Search Console (formerly webmaster tools) – I frequently find site owners who have never bothered to connect their sites here and use this invaluable resource
  3. Have you evaluated domain suitability and value and checked expiration? – Carefully and I mean carefully consider if your current domain is even right for your business. Certainly this is a good time to check and make sure your desired domain isn’t set to expire anytime soon. (Quick check WhoIS)
  4. Have you cataloged all pages and current issues? – Use Screaming Frog to create a spreadsheet of all of your pages and any currently broken links or crawl errors.
  5. Have you added Google Analytics data for pageviews, bounce rate and time on page to a spreadsheet to help make assessment on content to keep? By adding this kind of data to your spreadsheet you might learn about some pages that are receiving a surprising amount of traffic or links.
  6. Have you ranked your spreadsheet content? A= keep no edit, B=keep edits needed, C= drastic rewrite or dump? This step involves your overall business and marketing strategy so you’ll need to consider how you want to position your business and your editorial calendar moving forward to make some of this decisions.
  7. Have you audited any lead capture/landing pages/forms? If you’re capturing email addresses for a newsletter, ebook or webinar series you’ll want to make sure you take note of these for the redesign. It’s easy to lose track of landing pages because they are often buried away from the main navigation.
  8. Have you audited SEO for ranking pages? Screaming Frog can give you information about pages that already rank for desired terms. If these terms are still relevant, you’ll want to think long and hard about how to keeps these pages intact.
  9. Have you audited permalink structure? A site redesign might be the time to analyze whether you want those ugly numbered URLs for your blog posts or the default date added. Most sites today are moving to keyword-rich URLs for all content (Don’t worry, I’m headed there in a month or two myself.)
  10. Have you analyzed current backlinks? Use a tool like ahrefs to see if any sites are sending significant traffic to pages. You’ll want to use some of this information to make determinations about leaving pages as is or even permanently redirecting the pages to eliminate creating too many broken links. (You might also consider some links that need pruning too.)
  11. Have you designed a 301 permanent redirect strategy if needed? If you’re making any dramatic URL changes, you’ll want to tell the search engines that your blog posts still exist they’re just at a new address. Make sure you work this through and test it thoroughly before you launch. The Yoast SEO Plugin can help with 301s
  12. Have you evaluated current plugins for use? A redesign is a great time to reconsider your current plugin use. Plugins are a big resource drag and a security hole – less is better.
  13. Have you evaluated needed integrations (CRM, ESP, Shopping cart, etc.) Finally, if you currently have some integration with other 3rd party tools or client portals, you’ll want to note the need for these and make sure you can share this information with your designer.

The steps above may seem like a lot of work, but it will save you a ton of work, worry, and headache in the end. In fact, if you start working with a designer and they don’t ask you for this information up front, you should be concerned.

6 Ways to Make the Most of Your Site Navigation

Your website is one of the most important aspects of your business. If done correctly, it’s the first thing people see about your brand or product. Unless you’re such a well-known brand that people don’t have to search online to find out about, then you should make sure your website is not only a sales tool but a resource for your potential customers.

Fill your website up with good content, about your product, about your company, about your process, about how to use your product or service effectively. Then, make it easy to find.

When you consider your website, take a look at your navigation. A bad navigation could ruin the fact that you have tons of great content on your site by making it too much work for your website visitors to find. When creating a good navigation, there are several things you can consider:

1) Who is looking at this page?

The audience for your website and specific pages is perhaps the most important thing to look at when considering your navigation. Put yourself in their shoes. What would they be looking for? What information do they need served to them via a sidebar or header navigation?

Additional supporting information should be easily accessed. In this case, someone might want more related videos or they might want to go ahead and sign up for a Discovery Call.

Additional supporting information should be easily accessed. In this case, someone might want more related videos or they might want to go ahead and attend an upcoming training.

2) Is there related information that should be easily accessed from this page?

When someone visits this page and consumes the information, what other information do they need to supplement this information? Are there questions they might have to follow up on the information they’ve just consumed?

3) Is your content clearly labeled?

This one should be a no-brainer! However, it’s not. Ensure that you aren’t using industry slang unless your content is focused only on people in your industry. Make sure that when someone clicks on a label, the content that you then serve to visitors is what they expect to see associated with that label, and vice versa. Ensure that the content you have is labeled in an easy-to-search-for-and-find-way.

4) What are the key elements you want customers to see when visiting your site?

When people get to your site, what is it that you want them to find?
There should be a clear main point for your website and business. If you have other lines of business or supporting points, make them prominent as well. What options is it that you want people to have as soon as they get to your site?

5) Is your contact information easily accessible?

There’s a good chance that when someone visits your site, they will need to access your contact information. They might need to shoot you an email, call or even know your location and hours. Make this information clear. Don’t make your website visitors search for this information.

Add a sign-up to your newsletter in the side bar navigation.

Add a sign-up to your newsletter in the sidebar navigation to make the call to action clear, noticeable and easy to find.

6) What call to action is your page looking to incite?

Extremely important, what do you want your site visitors to do when they consume the content on each page? Some pages might want you to watch a video, while some might be more compatible to get visitors to sign up for an email list. A downloadable eBook might be the goal of your information. Whatever your call to action is, the navigation is a great place for it.

Your navigation might just be something that you install as a necessity, but if you put a little bit of thought and strategy around it, you’ll find it can be one of your greatest online assets.

Kala LinckKala Linck is the Community and Content Manager at Duct Tape Marketing. You can find her blogging her travels, praying for summer or tweeting about marketing, coffee and cats @tadasunshine.

16 Step Checklist for the Perfect Blog Post

perfect blog post checklist

You work hard to create content – sometimes on the fly in the midst of the raging storm that is entrepreneurialism.

In the rush to get the thing out though you can diminish its impact through oversight and sloppiness. You might even do your brand more harm than good. And then all that hard work has less payoff.

Use this sixteen-point checklist as a guide to help establish a pre-publish blog post/page routine so you can hit publish with incredible confidence.

☐ Keywords – Do you have a plan for optimizing certain keywords and phrases as the focus for this post? (Yoast SEO Plugin helps analyze if you’ve used these phrases in the right amount.)

☐ Grammar and Spelling – Have you proofed your post to catch typos and embarrassing grammar missteps? (Check out Grammarly – it will check you as you go.)

☐ Headline – Have you spent time writing an appealing headline? Use strong adjectives and action packed benefit statements.

☐ Hook – Does your first paragraph draw the reader into the payoff even if you spend the next ten paragraphs setting it up?

☐ H2, H3 – Have you made your post scannable by breaking it into subsections and lists with H2 and H3 formatting to help with readership and let Google know what’s important?

☐ Permalink – Have you changed your permalink to include your keyword rather than simply use the default permalink post title?

☐ Links – Have you looked for ways to link internally to related posts or externally to resources that add value? Have you used keywords in the anchor texts of these links?

☐ Category – Have you chosen an appropriate category that matches up with your core themes? Categories can help organize and produce their own feed to use in other ways.

☐ Tags – Have you tagged the content to include people, things or resources you’ve mentioned?

☐ Featured Image – Have you included a compelling image and chosen it as your featured image? The image in this post was created using Canva.

☐ Image alt attribute – Have you written an alt attribute to describe your image in terms of your keywords?

☐ Title – Have you written a title attribute that uses your keywords? (This is a feature of a good plugin such as WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast.)

☐ Meta Description – Have you written a description that might entice someone to click through if they read it in search engine results? (Again Yoast)

☐ Author – Have you chosen the correct author if you have multiple authors for the blog?

☐ Preview – Have you looked at a live preview just to make sure everything is as it should be?

☐ Publish – Have you hit the publish button?

Okay, now go out there and promote the heck out of your perfect post!