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Blueprint to Search Engine Success


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Ever wonder how a company gets to the top of Google search results? Know that successful search engine optimization (SEO) means more customers, but don’t know where to start?

You’re in luck. Simone Watson, iContact’s resident SEO expert and Loren Baker, Founder of Search Engine Journal/Co-Founder of Foundation Digital have teamed up to help you get started with your SEO aspirations.

You can view the recording here:

Simone and Loren cover:

• How to set up your online analytics
• How to use mobile to your advantage
• How to write winning on-page meta descriptions
• Why building quality links matters, and how to get started
• Several useful tools to help automate and track progress

Published in: Internet
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Blueprint to Search Engine Success

  1. 1. Blueprint to SEARCH ENGINE SUCCESS Simone Watson Digital Marketing Manager, iContact Loren Baker Search Engine Journal, Founder Foundation Digital, Co-Founder MARCH 8, 2017
  2. 2. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.2 BEFORE WE BEGIN… AUDIO ISSUES? Let us know by typing a message into the question box. QUESTIONS? Questions will be addressed during Q&A in the order received. WANT THE RECORDING? We’ll send a link to your email address within 2-3 business days.
  3. 3. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.3 PRESENTED BY: Simone Watson, Digital Marketing Manager, iContact She manages the company's SEO, SEM campaigns, and affiliate marketing program. Before coming to iContact, Simone worked with an agency and managed SEO for numerous clients. Simone is a contributor to Search Engine Journal, and guest lecturer at Wake Forest University. Loren Baker, Founder of Search Engine Journal Loren is founder of Search Engine Journal a leading SEO industry publication and the co-founder of Foundation Digital, a digital marketing agency. He's worked with companies such as ESPN, iContact, Disney and HSN as well as many small to medium sized businesses to improve their SEO.
  4. 4. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.4 • Why SEO matters • Set up your analytics • Writing meta for success • Combining email & SEO • Link building how-to’s • Using mobile optimization to improve SEO • Recommended SEO tools • Q&A AGENDA
  5. 5. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.5 NOTE: STAR RANK TO GAUGE DIFFICULTY Moderate difficulty, can be done with a little time ** Technical knowledge required, developer recommended ****Easy, no technical knowledge needed
  6. 6. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. WHY SEO MATTERS 6 Best way to capture large amounts of high-converting traffic Users from search engines usually convert at a higher rate than other channels Connect high-value prospects to valuable content Analyzing ranking results can let you know what your target customers care about. Helps you land a prime spot in the purchase decision cycle Because search engines provide opinions & reviews, your site can be considered early in the purchase cycle if you rank high No media cost = high ROI Good SEO works for almost all search engines If you optimize for Google, you’re also optimizing for Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.
  7. 7. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.7 SET UP YOUR ANALYTICS Google Analytics Measure behavior on your website THESE REPORTING PLATFORMS ALLOW YOU TO: 1 Google Search Console Google’s search engine to crawl your website Google My Business Optimize essential business info for searchers
  8. 8. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. GOOGLE MY BUSINESS* 8 © 2016 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. HIGH importance to small- to-medium size businesses • The easiest way to get your organization hours, phone number, and location listed on Google Search and Maps • The information above influences the “local pack” and the “knowledge graph” shown so searchers can find you • Google Reviews are key for your organization to show up in local pack Example of Knowledge Graph Example of Local Pack
  9. 9. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. How to Set Up GOOGLE MY BUSINESS* 9 • Sign up at • Enter your business name, address, phone number, and hours of operation • Need support? Shoot a quick tweet to @GoogleMyBiz • Don’t forget Bing! Sign up at
  10. 10. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. GOOGLE SEARCH CONSOLE** 10 © 2016 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. Use this tool to: • See Google search results data • Analyze crawling errors at a page-level (i.e., 404 pages) • Submit sitemaps & crawl requests • See pictures of how Google views your site (using Fetch & Render) Note: Only place to disavow links Tip: Make sure to set up properties based on HTTP
  11. 11. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. GOOGLE ANALYTICS*** 11 © 2016 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. Analyze data by traffic channel and compare periods of time Apply data filters to ensure accuracy (i.e., filter out your office IP address) Important metrics include: sessions, new users, bounce rate, avg. time on page, conversions
  12. 12. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.12 WRITING META FOR SUCCESS** 2 Writing meta is the easiest way to tell a search engine what your page is about, so it can get ranked faster. Resist the urge to keyword-stuff Write a compelling meta title and description Yoast SEO (FREE version available!) simplifies meta Available for Wordpress & Drupal
  13. 13. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. KEYWORDS & GOOGLE 13 Keywords The words or phrases used to describe your products or services. High-quality, relevant keywords can help you reach more people likely to be interested in you. BUT: Google has moved to machine-learning (RankBrain) and away from counting keywords in a piece of content. What does this mean for SEO?
  14. 14. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. NO MORE KEYWORD-STUFFING! 14 Repetitive keyword use is an outdated technique • The bad news: it makes SEO harder • The good news: brands can focus on fresh, non-repetitive content Your content should serve the goals of the searcher • Deliver the experience they need and the answers they want. • If a user is searching for “metal roofing benefits,” then provide content that thoroughly answers the query. • Minimum word count is 500. The best-performing content has 1,000- 1,500 words
  15. 15. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. EXAMPLE OF YOAST SEO FOR META 15 Meta title = title of the web page • The bad news: it makes SEO harder • Should capture the user’s attention & directly answer the query • Should be no longer than 60 characters Image Credit: Meta descriptions = concise explanations of the page • Serves as ad copy on search engine result • Should be no longer than 160 characters
  16. 16. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.16 QUALITY EXAMPLES OF META BY SMBS Query: Roofing Company Raleigh, NC Query: Hair Salon Raleigh, NC Query: Home Automation Raleigh, NC
  17. 17. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.17 COMBINING EMAIL & SEO* Email alone can’t help you rank, but email that stimulates page traffic and sharing of content (like blog and social posts) Will give Google what it likes to see: engagement. With RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system, on-page engagement metrics became highly important for SEO. Metrics include Bounce Rate, Pages per Visit & Avg Time on Page. 3 The more users engage with your content, the better that page performs in rankings. Read Larry Kim’s study here: ridiculously-effective-ways-boost-organic-ctr/177253/
  18. 18. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. COMBINING EMAIL AND SEO 18 What other ways can you use email to help boost SEO? • Use targeted email campaigns to send traffic to important pages you want to rank higher. • Remember, your own audience is your best brand advocate: ask your newsletter subscribers to follow your social channels and engage! • Share blog posts via email and encourage readers to comment on the blog. • Use email to encourage subscribers to connect via RSS (if you have one), so you can keep them coming back to your content.
  19. 19. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.19 DO LINK BUILDING, NOT BUYING*** Necessary since 2012, when Google began to penalize websites that were buying links or engaging in link schemes (Penguin Update) 4 Investing time in a link building (or link earning) campaign delivers high- quality links back to your website, which sends trust signals back to the search engines. This helps push your website higher in the rankings. So, what’s link building? • Create intriguing content which influencers and publishers will want to link to. • Make sure that content is relevant to your overall SEO goals. • Outreach to high-quality websites that may find your content relevant and timely. • Do not concentrate on anchor text, concentrate on topical relevance.
  20. 20. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. STEPS TO BUILDING QUALITY LINKS 20 Reach out to 3 target groups of targeted writers: • Bloggers • Influencers (Social media influencers are important) • Journalists (Industry publications, local journalists, etc.) Introduce yourself, your organization & offer specific content relevant to their site. • Get started building a relationship • Explain why your content is a great fit • Content is more than blog posts. Try white-papers and infographics too! Use a tool like to manage your link building outreach
  21. 21. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. LOCAL CITATIONS & LOCAL LINKS 21 Embarking on a local listings campaign can differentiate your site from your competition • links from Local Business Directories • local Yellow Pages • local Classifieds • Other Local Businesses or Chambers of Commerce Listings in Local Social Media • Yelp, Facebook, Swarm and other business profiles rank in Google • Siri loves Yelp results (great way to optimize for mobile searchers)
  22. 22. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.22 MOBILE OPTIMIZATION TO INFLUENCE SEO*** 5 Over 70% of Google’s search requests now occur on mobile A site’s rankings will be judged by mobile standards, not desktop Google will soon implement a “mobile-first” index Avoid pop-up ads They’re usually annoying and Google has started to penalize for them 3 key elements • Mobile responsive: website automatically resizes to fit different screens • Page speed: target 2-3 seconds load times • Prioritize the mobile experience: design or edit a web page with mobile users in mind
  23. 23. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES (AMP) 23 Used to help with page load speed: AMP is a Google feature that builds a lightweight version of your webpage AMP pages load in less than 2 seconds! • Hosted on Google’s servers • Strip out a lot of weighty HTML and CSS • Currently incompatible with Javascript How do you get AMP? • If you have a developer, send them here: • If you don’t have a developer or have Wordpress, set up using Yoast:
  24. 24. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. FREE TOOLS TO CHECK MOBILE OPTIMIZATION 24 What’s loading per page & how fast? Specific instructions on how to improve speed? Does my website have mobile usability issues? Google Search Console’s “Mobile Usability Report” (find in your account) Does Google think I’m mobile friendly? Google’s Mobile Friendly test: mobile-friendly
  25. 25. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. RECOMMENDED SEO TOOLS 25 FREE - Google Analytics & Google Search Console Find target keywords & spy on competitor rankings with SEMRush Find relevant content ideas with Buzzsumo Manage your disavow links with Ahref’s link manager Start a link building campaign with Buzzstream How do I generate new, relevant keywords? FREE
  26. 26. © 2017 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved. Q&A
  27. 27. THANK YOU! © 2016 iContact LLC. All Rights Reserved.27