Friday, July 29, 2011

5 Easy Ways to Boost SEO (From Social Media Today)

Finding the keys to search engine optimization (SEO) can seem as difficult as decoding the Enigma machine. Businesses today clamor to solve the riddle, figure out the formula, and rise to the top of that first page on Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
A high ranking in search results for relevant keywords secures more than online real estate, it secures profits, because many consumers and businesses use search engines as the first step in a purchasing decision. Informous sees this in action every day: our industry specific search engine has already generated scores of qualified leads for our listed companies, most beginning with links from search engines.
Our business deals with packaging and plastics companies, but in many industries, search rank for relevant keywords can be the difference between leads going to your company—or to your competitors.  Leads can come from broad terms such as “cartoning machinery,” as well as very specific ones such as “vertical insert injection molding machines,” so search engine optimization is a great first step to increasing sales.
Excelling at SEO involves a lot of time and expertise, but there are some relatively easy ways to begin to improve your results. A lot of what Informous does to improve search rankings for our listed companies is proprietary, but we’re sharing a few secrets today to get you started.
Below are some initial ways to get better SEO results:
1. A little keyword research makes a big difference. Keyword research can be as simple as a team brainstorm, or as complex as using custom, proprietary tools. When you think about keywords, don’t just think about your company name—think about your products, and how people would try to find them.  For example, if you sell labeling equipment, think about keywords like “buying labeling equipment” or “labeling equipment [insert your geographic region].”
If you want to go beyond a brainstorm, but don’t want to break the bank, Google Adwords and KeywordSpy are great resources.  Google Adwords‘ free “keyword tool” displays both the search volume and competition for keywords.  KeywordSpy shows the keywords that are working for your competitors—some KeywordSpy tools are free, others are not.
Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, you should use them throughout your SEO efforts. Optimizing your site with the right keywords will drive more qualified traffic, and get your business more leads.
2. Change up your titles. Make sure that every page on your site has a different title that showcases the relevant keywords for that page.  This sounds simple, but it’s often forgotten. Not only are titles highly important in search algorithms, they are the first thing that people see when they look at a page of search results. Changing the title of each page can give a website a huge boost in search engine rankings.
By title, we mean the text that goes on top of your browser, not the title on the page itself. Illustrated below:
SEO title

3. Make sure you have the right metadata. The titles mentioned above are one kind of metadata, but meta-descriptions and keywords are also important. Many web designers will not include meta-descriptions and keywords in their code.  These descriptions and keywords aren’t visible to your visitors, but provide important clues for search engines as to what information is contained on the page.  Meta descriptions are especially important, because they usually appear on search engines, right below the title (see below picture). Those descriptions are your first chance to grab the attention of a potential client or customer.
meta description
4. Link building. Search engines determine their rankings partly by relevance of content, and partly by how many other sites link to your site.  Whether links are on a site like Informous, on social media properties, or in a comment on a blog, links back to your website will help your search engine rankings. Also make sure that your website is linking to itself.  Wikipedia does so well in search rankings party because it is chock full of internal links.
5. Grade your website. Use the fantastic free tools available to help you analyze your gives some great SEO advice, as does HubSpot’s Website Grader. These tools analyze almost every aspect of SEO on your website.
Though SEO is a highly complex and constantly changing field, the basics, such as the five outlined above, remain keystones of success.  Without a solid foundation, advanced SEO strategy has nothing to stand on.
If you are a packaging or plastics company, and you want to let Informous do some heavy lifting for your SEO efforts, you can get a free listing today, or invest in one of our upgrade packages. Other industries--look out for our future plans!
And last of all, we want to hear from you. What SEO tactics have worked for your company?

Post originally appeared on the Informous Blog. 

How to Really Build Traffic to Your Blog

My first blog has been up for just one and a half years and while my traffic has hit 1200 page views a day on occasion. I know that it's not close to the 35,000 unique visitors that FashionToast gets, but I can tell you that I worked like a maniac to build my meager 1000 page views.  Emphasis on the maniac because my blog group had to do an intervention to make me focus on editorial themes and quality over quantity. My newest blog is taking the same traffic trajectory but the difference is that I am posting only three times a week which is much less than I've ever dared do on my parenting blog.

So, here's my two cents:

With 3.5 million mommy blogs, you have to focus on a niche with consistent editorial themes. I as your infrequent reader should be able to rattle of an elevator blurb on what you care about if you are doing this correctly.

Branding is important. Does your blog title reflect your niche? How about your tagline? And did you make sure your meta description is your updated tagline? Did you map your URL to get rid of the "WordPress/Blogspot/LiveJournal?" Please do,

Now that you have a niche, tell me what to expect with an editorial calendar and regular unique features. You can deviate, god knows I do, but the reader who found you through Google wants more content of similar ilk.

A picture speaks a thousand words. Include at least one image or video and don't forget to put in alt text behind the image. That's good for SEO. (I know that I don't do this much on this blog but it is my third one and we treat it like an ignored stepchild).

Check your blog load speed time. Tools for that include Pingdom and Website Speed Test. Google punishes blogs with slow load times and so do readers.

Give readers many different options to follow your blog? An RSS feed does not work for everyone. Do you offer the feed via email? You can do this free using Feedburner. Pimping instructions here. Are there links to Twitter and Facebook? And also from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn back to your blog? Don't make it difficult for me to get your content. Networked Blogs through Facebook is another must have. And my pet peeve? Is your Twitter handle different from your blog name and/or Facebook page? Why? That makes me crazy!

An investment in a professional blog template is a small price to pay for displaying more content. Some come built in with great SEO. I am fond of Woo Themes.

Is there a search box for your blog on your blog? How can I find older posts without the capability? It's a widget you add that you most likely have.

Are your posts either very useful or very entertaining? Will I learn something from each one? The longer it takes you to create your post, the higher value added it likely is.

Are your posts evergreen? You'll want to post at least once a week on something that has appeal long after you've posted. That is a huge way to build traffic that works for me.

Are you filling out post summaries and an inordinate number of tags? I don't know Google's super secret search algorithms but I think it can't hurt. Synonyms of key words are also good.

Are you leaving comments--at least five a day? What? Why not? It really works you know.

Your social media presence will directly correlate to your blog traffic. Get more Twitter followers. Join relevant online communities. Discipline yourself to do a little of this every day. The tortoise does win the race after all.

Work your pr contacts in real life. Nothing drives traffic than mentions or features elsewhere. Karma counts. Be nice and use your good manners when communicating online.

At the end of the day focus on great content. Quality will always matter more than quantity.

It's fine to repurpose great content you find. Check their copyright policy (I'm not one to talk), just excerpt a paragraph or so, link back and give credit where it is due. If you say really nice things about the author of the content, chances are you won't get a wrist slap.

Combining ideas from several sources is another way to use great content but make it your own.

I think it all boils down to three words: quality, consistency, and techy (blog speed, SEO, etc.)

My parting words are that growing your traffic is a lot like losing weight. Sometimes you work really hard and the needle doesn't budge but if you keep at it and change your daily habits bit by bit, the change is enormous over a long period of time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feedburner Subscription Box: Making It Smaller

If you use FeedBurner for email subscriptions to your blog (and why not? It works really well and it's free!), you might not like how the FeedBurner standard subscription box is huge because it takes up valuable real estate on your sidebar.

I read a bunch of posts on how to pimp it, and to make things easier, I am just giving you the code for the modifications that I've made. Be sure to save your FEED ID number before you start to customize. Alternately, you can get it from your FeedBurner account.

My Old Feedburner Email Subscription Box was much wider and has a FeedBurner message at the bottom:


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

My New FeedBurner Email Subscription Box is more narrow:


Step 1: Cut and paste your feedburner code into a safe place.
Step 2: If you like my form, cut and paste the code below.

I can't figure out a way to put up the code so that it can be cut and pasted. I know there is a way, but I just don't know it. Leave a comment and I'll email the code to you, I guess. I also got the code from the links below which is easy to cut/paste but you'll have to make all the changes yourself.

Step 3: Put in your Feed ID.
Step 4: Save and close

This post is by PragmaticMom. Who knew what she could manipulate HTML code?! Not really, but she can fake it when necessary.

p.s. Useful Posts on Topic:

How to Customize Your Feedburner Email Subscription Form, Part I
How to Customize The Feedburner Subscription Email Form for Your Blog

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Creating a Cache Folder for HyperCache

I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to speed up the load time on my blog. One way is to use a good cache plugin. I tried several (W3-Total Cache and WP Super Cache) and ended up with HyperCache after a long round of help desk support calls to the manager at my old hosting company.

When the Hyper Cache plugin updated, I got a red error message which is very stressful. It said:

Hyper Cache was not able to create the folder "cache" in its installation dir. Create it by hand and make it writable.

Here's the Idiot Proof way of fixing it if your web host help desk support can not do it for you. Note that Go Daddy was useless but StableHost fixed it for me!

1) Go to Go Daddy and log in (always easier than it sounds)
2) Go to My Account
3) Under the left hand side bar, go to HOSTING under MY PRODUCTS
4) Select your domain name and hit LAUNCH
5) Go to FTP File Manager. It's a large button on the upper left hand side.
6) The plugins folder is under wp-content
7) Open the plugins in folder
8) Find the HyperCache folder
8) Now hit button on the top left hand of the screen called CREATE NEW DIRECTORY
9) Call this directory: cache
10) Now hit Permissions button
11) You are about to do something called giving 777 permission which is fancy talk for read/write/execute
11) Check the boxes below so that Read, Write and Execute are all checked.

Web user permissions  

 Read Write Execute(Directory)
Owner permissions

 Read Write Execute(Directory)

12) Log into your wordpress blog.
13) Go to Hypercache plugin and hit SETTINGS
14) This will ask you to clear your cache. You say yes and the annoying red error sign will go away. Phew!

That was fun, huh? Congratulate yourself on your newfound tech geek skills and enjoy the rest of your day!

p.s. This is a great post by WP Garage if you are also trying to get your blog to load faster. Just be cautious with the WordPress Clean Options Plugin. I used this and wiped out some of my posts such that they were in my Wordpress files but they loaded as blank pages. It took hours and hours of time to fix this issue and was NOT fun!