In my last post, I spoke about the importance of defining your audience and finding your voice. Today I want to talk about the organizational structure of a growth driven blog with categories and tags (also known as taxonomies in WordPress) and their importance. If you are going to spend time creating remarkable content you should also spend time organizing it.
Five Benefits of a Using Categories & Tags
- Better user experience for your readers
- Keeps your message and content on topic
- Makes content easier to find by grouping similar content together
- Becomes the backbone of your content strategy
Understanding The Difference Between WordPress Categories & Tags
I use WordPress, the most popular blogging platform in the world and runs 27% of the world’s websites. It also makes it easy to organize your blog and can easily address all five points above.
- Categories group similar content together and cover a broad group of topics.
- Tags link similar content together into more specific subcategories.
- The category for this blog post is:
- My tags are:
- Search Engine Optimization
How To Use WordPress Categories and Tags
- Create your categories and tags before you start creating content
- Only use one category per post
- You can also create and use sub-categories if needed to be more specific
- Use no more than 2-3 tags per post
- Use clear and descriptive names for your tags and categories. I like to use keywords I am trying to rank for on Google
- Capitalize the first letter of your categories
- Use lowercase on tags
- Make your tags as descriptive as possible
- Don’t duplicate your tags and categories make each one unique
- Create a description for each category and tag that helps describe the content of each category
A well-structured growth driven blog has many benefits from user experience to SEO. A well-structured blog will help you keep your content on track, keep your readers engaged, help the search engines understand what your blog is about and showcase your expertise.
How do your web pages rank when someone searches for a product or service provided? Do they click on one of your web pages or one of your competitors? Better yet, do you even show up? Search Engine Optimization is the continual process of making sure your website and pages rank favorably in a SERP.
It’s estimated that 2.3 million searches are performed on Google every second. That’s 138 million searches per minute, or 2 trillion searches every year.
11 Search Engine Optimizations Tips That Can Help Your Site Rank Favorably in Google
Tip 1 – Keyword Optimized Page Titles
Keyword optimized page title are the most important factor regarding on-page SEO.
- Your page title should accurately describe the page content
- Place the keyword you are trying to optimize for at the beginning of the page title
- Keep your page titles to 55 characters or less, including spaces to avoid being truncated. (See Image Above)
- Each page title should be unique to the page
- If you use WordPress, your page or post title will be your page title
- If you want to see a preview of how your page title will look in Google check out MOZ’s New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
- If you use Excel or Google Sheets, the LEN function can be a lifesaver. The Len Function counts the character length of a text string including spaces. Learn more about using the Len function.
Tip 2 – Optimize Your Meta Description!
This is the content that you see under the page title in a Google SERP. I like to think of this as my 155 character sales pitch. The meta description is your chance to entice someone to click-through to your page, so it makes sense to write compelling copy. If you don’t Google may choose a meta description for you.
- Try to keep your meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters. I shoot for 155 to avoid truncation. (See Image Above)
- Your meta description should include problem, solution, call to action and if you are a local business include your phone number.
- If you use Excel or Google Sheets, the LEN function can be a lifesaver when writing meta descriptions. Learn more about using the Len function.
- Each page and post should have a unique description
Tip 3 – Page Structure
Page structure is important and needs to formatted correctly with the proper use of HTML heading TAGS. HTML heading tags range from <h1> – <h6>. I like to refer to these as section headings because that’s what they are for. If you use WordPress these tags that are located in the WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get Editor), The six different HTML tags are related to their importance <h1>is used for the most important heading followed by <h2> and so on. (Below is an image of the WYSIWYG in WordPress.)
Heading Tags and Search Engine Optimization
- Your title tag should use the <h1> tag and make sure your keyword is placed inside of it. If you use WordPress, this will be done automatically for you. Only use 1 <h1> tag per post! The <h1> tag
- Use the <h2> tag for section headings on your post or page. You can use more than one <h2> tag.
- Use the <h3> tag for section sub headings.
- Use header tags sparingly, excessive use of header tags can hurt your SEO efforts.
- Use bold, italics and underline to format text that is not in a heading.
- Write short paragraphs, use bullet points, and link to relevant content onsite and offsite
Tip 4 – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)
You are probably familiar with the importance of keywords, but you might not be familiar with Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). Your content needs to flow naturally and needs to be written for human beings, not search engines; this is where Latent Semantic Indexing Comes in. For SEO purposes search engines give more weight to the overall theme of your content and not the number of times a particular keyword appears within your text. LSI identifies patterns in your writing and makes a correlation to your keywords and their context.
- LSI is a ranking factor that Google uses
- Semantic keywords are keywords related to your main keyword and should be used throughout your content
- Use this LSI keyword generator to help you create keyword variations that describe your idea
- If you remove the main keywords from your content would a reader be able to understand what your content is about
- For example, If I am trying to optimize for the keyword SEO I might choose the following keywords
- website optimization techniques
- learn SEO
- how to optimize your website
- effective website optimization
- Remember context is everything
Tip 5 – Use Hyperlinks
There are two types of hyperlinks internal and external links. Internal hyperlinks point to other pages and content on your website. External links point to other websites on the web from your site.
- The text within a hyperlink is called anchor text
- Make sure the anchor text you choose to use is relevant to the content you are linking to
- Link to relevant content on your site
- Link to relevant content on other websites
- Link to external pages that can add value or support your content
- The number of quality inbound links that point to your site matter, so create content that people want to link to. Google looks at inbound links (backlinks) as votes of confidence and authority
Tip 6 – Optimize Images For Search Engine Optimization
Images can make your post more interesting and bring some much-needed SEO value if used correctly. If a user can not view an image on a web page, the alt tag will give alternative information about the image Search engines will index the content associated with your photos not just your content. Images are often a missed opportunity to rank within a SERP.
- Make sure you that you use descriptive words to rename the actual image file that you use within your content
- Use keywords and be descriptive
- If you are selling a product include the part, product or serial number
- Don’t go crazy with the use of keywords
Beyond On-Page Optimization – Technical SEO
Tip 7 – What Is URL Canonicalization?
Sometimes a piece of content can be accessed by multiple URLs on your website, and this presents a problem regarding on page SEO and what is being indexed in Google. If a piece of content on a web page can be accessed from different URL’s on your site, you have a URL canonicalization problem. In short search engines don’t know which URL to include in the SERP or which link to pass on the trust, authority and other metrics associated with a link.
Technically speaking the links below are all different URL’s but can point to the same location. As you can imagine this can present a problem for search engines because they need to determine which version of this content should they show to a searcher.
Tip 8- You may have a URL canonicalization problem if any of the following apply:
- You use UTM tracking URL’s
- Your site uses dynamic URL’s
- You have an online store with product pages
- You have internal search pages on your site.
- You can correct canonicalization problems by either doing a 301 redirect or use the HTML link tag with attribute rel=canonical
Tip 9 – If you want to learn more about URL canonicalization check out the following blog posts.
Tip 10 – What Does Noindex, Nofollow, And Robots.txt Mean?
Sometimes you want to have your pages indexed in Google, and sometimes you don’t. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to search engine optimization, but it’s not. Believe it or not, you can control what Google should and should not index. Robots.txt, is a standard used by websites to communicate with search engines.
- Robots.txt – is a txt file located in the root directory of your website that has the pages that search engines should not access, index or follow. Just an FYI according to Google
- ” The instructions in
robots.txt files cannot enforce crawler behavior to your site; instead, these instructions act as directives to the crawlers accessing your site. While Googlebot and other respectable web crawlers obey the instructions in a
robots.txt file, other crawlers might not. “
- Noindex – Tells Google that you do not want them to index a particular page.
- Nofollow – Tells Google not to follow the links on that particular page.
- A good rule of thumb is to use the noindex and nofollow tags on any page that you do not want to be indexed by Google including:
- Landing pages connected to PPC campaigns
- Thank you pages
- When you have more than one version of a page already indexed such as a printer friendly version of a blog post.
- Content people have to pay for to see.
- You can learn more about the robots.txt exclusion protocol here
Tip 11 – Understanding Server Response Codes?
Server response codes are three digit codes a server generates every time a web browser (client) makes a request for information on another server connected to the Internet and lets the requesting client know how to handle the request. Here are the following server response codes that anybody involved with SEO should understand.
- 200 – All is good, life is wonderful!
- 301 – The content you are requesting has been moved permanently. (More on this in a later post)
- A 301 redirect is like going to the post office to change your address when you are moving. If you don’t tell the post office where to send your mail chances are you are not going to receive it.
- 302 – The content you are requesting has been moved temporarily. (More on this in a later post)
- 403 – You are not authorized to view the content.
- 404 – The page you are searching for no longer exists on the server. If your website does not have a 404 error page, it should.
- 500 – Oops Something somewhere along the line went wrong.
I have just begun to scratch the surface regarding SEO and on-page optimization. As I said optimizing your website and web pages is the continual process. I will be writing more about SEO in future posts. Remember knowing where to start is half the battle.
Let me know your thoughts below!
What Is A Growth Driven KPI (Key Performance Indicator)
A growth driven KPI is a metric used to help you measure and understand how effective your web strategy is. Having Google Analytics installed on your website can help you analyze what people when they visit your site and more importantly what you can do to improve their user experience.
Before you define a KPI that you would like to measure you need to define the purpose of your website and what you want to achieve. Doing this will help you determine what to measure and what not to measure,
Understanding What To Measure
A conversion on your website happens when a visitor to your site takes a desired action that you want to measure. It could be as simple as filling out a form to visiting a particular page. The total number of visitors that complete your desired action is called your conversion rate. (More on determining a conversion rate in a minute.)
Two types of conversions that you can measure on your website, micro and macro conversions.
- Micro conversions are indicators of potential success. Micro conversions lead to macro conversions
- Macro conversions drive people further down your sales funnel helping your achieve your ultimate goal, a sale.
Examples of micro conversions:
- Signing up for a free account
- Filling out a form
- Downloading a piece of content
- Viewed a video
Examples of macro conversions:
- Someone landed on a thank you page after filling out a form
- Requested pricing
- Purchased something
Once you identify which micro and macro conversions are important to you, you can decide what KPIs you want to measure.
Great KPIs Are
- Not complex – Choose key performance indicators that are easy to understand and take action on
- Relevant – Make sure they are relevant and unique to your organization
- Timely – Make sure that the KPI’s you choose are available and allow you to take immediate action
- Useful – If they do not provide value to you, they are useless
Examples of Using Growth Driven KPIs
Let’s say you want to increase website traffic by 50% in the next 12 months.There are several different traffic sources that you can monitor and measure to help you create a strategy and achieve your goal including:
- Direct traffic – Traffic that types your website’s domain name directly into a search engine’s address bar or arrives from a bookmark.
- New Users/visitor – Someone who has not previously or recently visited your site. Google tracks visitors by placing a cookie on the user’s computer. If the cookie has expired or has been deleted, Google will count this as a new user/visit.
- Organic Traffic – Visitors that visit your website from an unpaid organic search engine results page.
- Paid Traffic – Visitors that visit your site by clicking on a paid ad.
- Returning Users Visitors that have returned to your website for various reasons.
- Referral Traffic – Visitors that come to your site from other sites outside of a search engine result page.
If you want to increase your website traffic by 50% in the next 12 months, you need to analyze how visitors are arriving at your site and create a particular strategy for each.
Here are a few examples.
- If you want to increase your direct traffic, make sure that more people are aware of your website by promoting it in your email signature, social media sites, and other marketing campaigns
- If you want to increase paid traffic, create or increase your paid ads on Google, Bing and social networks
- If you want to increase returning traffic, create remarkable content, provide solutions, make your site easy to navigate and continue to be their go-to source
How To Determine A Conversion Rate
If you want to see how many people fill out a form on a specific page, you would divide the number of people that filled out the form on a particular page by the number of people that visited the page during a specific time frame.
- The total number of people that took the desired action divided by the number of individuals that could have taken that action equals your conversion rate.
- 25 people filled out a form on a page / 100 people that visited that page = A 25% conversion rate
- (25/100 = .25) x 100 = 25%
As you can see implementing a Growth Driven Analytics strategy can greatly improve your chances for success by understanding which of your marketing tactics work and which ones you should abandon!
Having a Growth Diven Marketing strategy can help you build your brand, drive traffic to your website and convert visitors into clients and brand champions. Successful strategies start with setting realistic goals and having an implementation plan!
Set Growth Driven Goals
This should go without saying but you need to have written goals if you are going to succeed with any Growth Driven marketing campaign.
When you write down your goals you identify them as being important. Once they are written down your chance of success greatly increases because your mind starts thinking about solutions to achieve your goals.
Having a goal is one thing having a defined goal is another. Smart Goals or S.M.A.R.T stand for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
A specific goal has a much greater chance of betting accomplished. I am going to start blogging, would be an example of a general goal. I am going to start blogging 2 hours a day, 3 times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday is an example of a specific goal.
What does success look like to you for this goal? Write it down. What is the return on investment you are looking for? Be specific.
Keep in mind your targeted ROI (return on investment) does not have to strictly be monetary. An ROI can be anything that defines success or failure.
Are your goals realistic?
It is so important to be realistic with your goal setting. If your goal is to create 3 blog posts a week, ask yourself if that is possible. If it is possible then you have a measurable and realistic goal. It is important to track your results if your goal needs to be tweaked do so.
Goal Setting and Campaign Strategy Planning Questions
A Growth Driven marketing strategy should align with your campaign goals. Here are a few questions to to think about to help you make sure your goals and strategy align.
- Who is your target audience for this campaign? Be specific remember not to target everybody, anybody or somebody.
- Who is your secondary target audience? Who elese does this campaign make sense to target?
- Why do you want to target these people? What is in it for them? What is in it for you?
- What information are you looking to capture? i.e. phone numbers, email addresses, new subscriptions?
- Define Success.
- What are you going to invest in this campaign (i.e. time, money, resources?)
- Do you require outside resources to help you?
- How will you benchmark success?
- How much time per day are you going to commit to nurturing this campaign?
- What are the desired outcomes?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- What are you going to do with the information that you will learn?
It is important to keep track of what works and what doesn’t. The great thing to remember is that you can always adjust accordingly. Keep track of everything that you do and the results that you receive.
Here are a few key points to think about regarding your results
- What were the results of your campaign?
- What worked?
- What didn’t?
- What would you do differently on your next marketing campaign
The web is an amazing place to conduct business and build your brand but remember it takes time along with trial and error.
One word of advice, be patient! Success does not happen overnight!
I hate to state the obvious, but you need to have a clear understanding of your business goals before you create and implement a Growth Driven marketing strategy. If you don’t understand what you want to achieve, how will you how begin to implement and measure it.
For the purposes of this post I will be referring to the four goals I have created below.
- I want to increase website traffic by 50% in the next 12 months.
- I want to increase followers on Twitter & Facebook by 33% in the next 6 months.
- I want to increase my email list by 40% in the next 3 months.
- I want to increase e-commerce sales by 20% over the next 6 months.
I have created four very specific goals that I think are attainable. Now, I need a strategy that can help me achieve them. Let’s create a strategy.
Creating a Growth Driven Strategy.
I like to think of my strategy as a tactical road map. When I start thinking strategically I begin evaluating and selecting the best options and solutions that I can implement to help me reach my goals.
I have decided that I want to increase website traffic by 50% in the next 12 months. How will I accomplish that? (Keep in mind these are just examples. You will want to do a bit more research before you commit. )
- I will start optimizing my web pages with long tail keyword phrases for better search engine results.
- I will start a pay-per-click campaign with a budget of $15 a day.
- I will start blogging once a week and share my posts on Facebook and Twitter.
I have decided that I want to increase my followers on social media by 33% in the next 6 months. How will I accomplish that?
- I will start sharing great content 3 times a week.
- I will enable social sharing on my blog.
- I will start contributing and commenting on other industry related blog posts & threads.
- I will add links to my social media sites in my email signature.
- I will invite my customers, employees & friends to follow me
- I will start following key influencers & other industry professionals.
- I will provide value.
I have decided that I want to increase my email list by 40% in the next 3 months. How will I accomplish that?
- I will make sure people can sign up on my home page, my about us page and at the end of every blog post.
- I will ask them.
- I will give people something of value for signing up for my newsletter.
- I will make the sign up process easy and less intrusive.
I have decided that I want to increase e-commerce revenue by 20% over the next 6 months. How will I accomplish that?
- I will make sure I promote my offers on social media.
- I will use an affiliate marketing program.
- I will start implementing paid search campaigns & optimizing my landing pages.
- I will offer special discounts available only available to subscribers of my newsletter.
- I will build trust and develop relationships with key influencers.
- I will make sure people know what I do,what I sell and all the services that I offer.
I have given you four goals and a strategy to attain each of them. Now its your turn, feel free to use my examples or create your own Growth Driven goals and strategy.
After consulting with many small business owners over the years, I have successfully managed to create a list of what I consider to be the best 45 rock solid best practices for using social media to promote your business, build a community of happy customers and brand champions.
45 rock solid best practices to help kick your social media marketing plan into overdrive
- Make sure you have a well-written profile or bio. This is often either overlooked or incomplete. Remember this is your opportunity to tell people all about YOU or your business.
- Create a content calendar to plan & schedule your posts.
- Have a strategy.
- Write a blog. A blog can help showcase your expertise, offer solutions and should be the hub of your social media presence.
- Encourage people to share your posts
- Include relevant links to your other social media sites. Let your clients, customers, and anybody else know how to connect with you on other social channels.
- If your audience is on Facebook than you should be on Facebook. If they are on Twitter then you should be on Twitter.
- Always let people know how & where to connect with you.
- Cross-promote your social media sites. Let your Facebook & Twitter followers know how they can find you on Google+, Instagram & Pinterest.
- Have a professional looking profile picture and cover photo (FB, Twitter, G+). If you want to be taken seriously as a business, then you have to start playing the part. Make sure you look professional. Having a business means having a professional looking brand image.
- Brands – If you are doing business as a brand feel free to use a logo for your profile image
- Individuals – If you are a consultant use a professional looking image of yourself.
- Make sure your brand looks and feels consistent across all brand touchpoints & social media sites. Use the same logos & colors to make it easy for people to find you.
- Don’t mix business and pleasure. It is a good idea to keep personal pages separate from your professional pages.
- Let people know how to get in touch with you off-line. Include your email address and relevant phone numbers.
- Use relevant hashtags in your posts to allow people to follow the conversation or content.
- If a hashtag doesn’t exist, create one.
- Encourage people to follow your hashtag
- Use bit.ly to shorten any links you need to post and share. The analytical data they give you is well worth the price of free.
- Claim your local directory profiles.
- Optimize images for each network (size matters, especially for mobile phones and tablets.)
- Do not repeat the same content on each social network. Nobody wants to see the same post on every social media site they follow you on.
- Post regularly and be consistent
- Post when your followers are likely to be online.
- Continually strive for engagement.
- Ask questions.
- Have contests.
- Follow your customers, suppliers & competitors.
- Promote your clients content.
- Share industry secrets.
- Don’t spam! Post content that provides value to somebody.
- Don’t always talk about yourself. This annoying and gets old quickly. Trust me we know how great you are.
- Post original content.
- Post other people’s content (also known as curated content)
- Always give credit where credit is due.
- Comment on other people’s posts. Even your competition.
- Include CTA (Call to action) when you want somebody to take the desired action.
- If you are a business make sure you add your location to your profile.
- If you want to get someone’s attention share their content or mention them.
- Strive to become the expert or authority in your particular area or expertise.
- Don’t post anything as a business or brand that does not add value or build your brand.
- Follow the five steps of engagement. Listen, engage, respond, promote, repeat.
- Be authentic.
- Become a trusted source.
- Be Human.
- Don’t take the comments personally and always respond to any comment promptly.
- Share, Share, Share
Do you have a best practice that is not on the list? Would you care to share? I look forward to your thoughts below.