SEO & Web Marketing for 2017

10 Predictions for 2017 in SEO & Web Marketing

Slowly but surely, the world is moving into a digitalized and online-only era. We will soon not only stop using printed advertising and reliance on paper, but forget that we ever did so in the past.

More and more businesses are turning to online-only strategies to promote eco-friendliness and create cost-efficient campaigns. There is no better time to take a look at some of the trends and possibilities that will lay the foundation for SEO and web marketing in the upcoming year.

Mobile-only marketing


If you’ve been in the marketing business for the last few years, you have been witness to the rising popularity of mobile-friendly platforms.

This trend will not only take firm hold in 2017, but overthrow the classic web-based marketing that we are accustomed to on our desktop computers and laptops.

More and more people base their entire work and way of living on their smartphones, tablets, and gadgets. It’s easy to see why companies and businesses would turn to developing mobile-only applications, advertisement campaigns, and platforms that are SEO friendly on mobile.

Content marketing will become dominant


We all know how powerful content marketing can be when applied properly. With the surge of so many different offers, sources, businesses and “dreams come true”, people have become more careful about choosing who to trust.

Content marketing is the best way to approach a new or existing client and establish a good relationship that benefits both sides. In the age where everything is available with the push of a button, people will go back to relying on plain old word-of-mouth and put trust into content marketing more than any other form of advertising.

Short content over long content


People have not only short attention spans, but are also far less likely to trust you if you need three pages to state one simple fact. Google knows this, and that is why SEO will be moving towards shorter, more relevant content, rather than multi-page content that has numerous ads and popups clogging up the page.

Writing shorter and more direct content that respects the reader will gain far better ranking. While there are instances where using short content doesn’t work for what you’re trying to say, giving people clear calls to action and incentives to “come take a look” will yield far better results.

Pay-per-click (PPC) will evolve even further


As the only method that works for most online businesses, PPC has become the industry standard for online marketing. Google has developed a new algorithm for their Adwords tool that allows users to discover which keywords will suit them best.

Their SEO has become not only more evolved, but smart by itself and capable of determining when something is spam content and what is relevant to the entered search query.

Businesses that want to develop and thrive on Google’s search platform will rely even more on these keywords and learn how to use them in clever ways. It will become harder to create click-bait content and we will see more and more quality on the web thanks to the evolution of PPC.

Voice search will become more relevant than ever


Like any new technology or gimmick, we were fast to overlook Google’s new voice search technology. While the applications are obvious and benefit anyone who is unable to type what they are looking for, voice search will now go further than that.

Everyone around the world is busier by the minute, and we quickly find ourselves in a situation where we don’t even have time to stop and type our request.

Google will continue developing and implementing voice technology into every tool they own, forcing businesses to adapt to new changes. SEO will become different, not more difficult, in a way that will allow marketing experts to optimize their platforms and allow voice search to boost their ranking.

With the world so fast and unstoppable in its development, we may even lose the application of a dedicated smartphone keyboard sometime down the line.

The customer will matter more than ever


While it’s true that we create content for our customers, new trends show us that this way of thinking is quickly evolving. Businesses will have to create personalized content tailored to their users’ specific needs in order to remain relevant on the market.

Apple has the right idea when it comes to developing their devices – they are created for the customers, not for the revenue. The revenue is just a side effect of a smart business strategy.

In order to become and stay relevant, it will be important to listen to your customers. Dedicated platforms that allow direct communication and community-based content management will become a thing of the norm.

Taking a look at the list of top writing services will give you a good idea into what’s trending when it comes to reader satisfaction. It’s not just about the professional relationship anymore – companies will have to open their doors slightly more to their followers if they want to stay competitive on the market.

Keywords will slowly become less relevant


With the evolution of PPC, keywords will play a lesser role than before, due to the fact that Google’s search algorithm has evolved past them. It is now smart enough to differentiate carefully placed keywords from relevant content that a user is searching for.

For SEO and web-based marketing, quality content will mean up-to-date information, detailed and structured content that delivers value and satisfaction to the customer, and strong technical optimization.

We’ll no longer have content that revolves around ad riddled websites that bait people in order to gain that little piece of revenue without giving any value back. The term “keyword” will simply be replaced by “pay-per-click” and we will structure and deliver our content in a slightly modified way.

This will mean new opportunities for content marketing and SEO professionals that want more liberty and creativity rather than dry keyword optimization that serves no one in the long run.

Native advertising will become dominant


We’ve all seen modern examples of native advertising – it’s so clever and well-made that half the time you don’t even notice it. What native advertising is doing best is blending in with the content it’s trying to monetize.

Web marketing experts will agree that native ads bring not only larger reach but also manage to convert more users. This is not because the product is so good it’s impossible to pass up, but because it doesn’t force anything on the user.

SEO has evolved to the point where it automatically dismisses ad riddled pages because these are almost always there just to get a few PPC down before being detected and taken down. If we want to reach a mutually beneficial relationship with our followers, we will have to utilize native advertising in smart and intuitive ways.

Social media will become the industry standard


While Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and similar social media services have implemented modern and trending advertisement strategies for as long as they exist, they have also provided us with a huge benefit.

These social media services allow us to reach unimaginable new customer bases and gain followers and word-of-mouth with very little, or no investment.

Web marketing will continue to evolve and revolve around these services, allowing not only the owners but third-party businesses to spread their campaigns and ads to ensure a maximum impact on their audience. In some cases, it might even be smart to base your entire business on social media alone. There is no better way to spread the word around than to use the trendiest services on the internet that everyone on the planet has access to and uses on a daily basis.

Building content with consistent engagement


When creating content, we rarely think about its long term applications. The world is moving and changing so rapidly that we are caught up in today’s events so much we don’t think about tomorrow for a second.

When it comes to SEO and current developments, more and more consistently engaged content gets a better ranking than “news of the day” articles. People like relevant information, but even more, they like information that stays relevant for months if not years after the content has been published.

Content that stays relevant over long periods of time and gets constant hits will be detected as important and trend much better than content which relies on momentary flashes of interest. Web marketing experts will have to take this fact into account when developing their business strategies because it will not only help their rankings but also spread word-of-mouth much better.

In conclusion


With the internet, SEO and web-based marketing evolving by the day, it’s hard to imagine all the exciting new technologies and opportunities that are coming our way. Using some of these trends and SEO developments will surely give you an advantage over your competitors in reaching a wider audience and making an impact.

These developments are always changing and becoming more or less relevant, so following up on any new trend is just as important as implementing it in the first place.

Synopsis: Ten predictions for SEO and web-based marketing development that will help you adapt and succeed in the coming year based on industry research.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Malia Keirsey

Malia Keirsey is an independent author and guest contributor from Chicago. She is passionate about blogging and writing on different topics, such as inspiration, motivation, marketing, education, etc. Follow her on Facebook.

How to Make your Blog Post Work for You

How to Make Your Blog Posts More Relatable

You know the technical stuff – proper SEO optimization, good publishing cadence, reader-friendly formatting, but what about the emotional attachment?

Your blog posts may be technically perfect, but if they aren’t relatable, you’ll have a hard time keeping people on the page. This reduces your chances of building brand loyalty because readers aren’t sticking around.

Creating content that captures the reader’s attention is a challenge for marketers across the board.

Not only do 43 percent of people admit to skimming blog posts, but producing relatable, engaging content was anticipated to be the greatest challenge for B2B and B2C marketers in 2016. Year after year, this problem tops the charts, and 2017 is no different.

Just because everyone is struggling with this, however, doesn’t mean you need to. Use the following ideas, all of which are simple to implement, to make your blog posts more relatable.

Embed Instagram Posts


Instagram is naturally a more personable platform. Many businesses use it to capture employee photos, adventures at conferences and more. If you use Instagram for these fun behind-the-scenes opportunities, embed them into your blog posts when appropriate.

If your business doesn’t use Instagram, fear not – you can still use this to make your posts more relatable. For example, when a home goods store is writing about new fall trends, they can include the Instagram post of a customer, popular blogger, industry influencer or InstaStar using their product, or simply using the same trending style.

Another fun option: Show that your employees walk the walk by embedding one of their Instagram posts, with their permission.

Make sure readers know it’s an employee’s photo to reinforce the relationship. You might say: “Check out our Chief Marketing Officer’s living room; she’s loving this fall’s maroon trend too!”

Whether the photo is yours or not, you can easily to embed it into your post, including the caption, right from the web app. Click the three dots in the bottom right corner, choose “Embed,” and paste the code given to you into the HTML of the post.

Take Your Own Photos


Nothing says boring and unrelatable like a stock photo that everyone’s seen ten times before. Start moving away from those boring imagery choices by taking your own photos. Luckily, it’s possible to capture great shots without having any photography skills, thanks to advancements in mobile phone camera technology.

For example, one reason why the new iPhone 7’s camera was a topic of discussion leading up to the release is because it allows users to take photos with depth of field. This is normally only possible with an expensive professional SLR or DSLR cameras, according to iPhone 7 Rumors Confirmed.

This feature can also be found in HTC M8 and a few other newer phone models, making it possible for you to take high-quality photos, from your business’ point of view.

To start, choose at least five blog posts on your calendar for the next month that you can make more relatable with images that you’ve taken yourself. Put these photo opportunities on your calendar or to-do list, so when the time comes to publish, you have all the assets you need.

If you have someone on staff who doubles as a photographer in your office, they can take this on as a project of their own. Slowly you’ll build a large file of assets, eliminating the need to use stock imagery in any blog post.

Work With Your Customers


Ideally, current and future customers are reading your blog posts. These are the people who see value in the topics you cover, and as such, relating to them is of utmost importance.

A fun way to make the connection between content and customer is to bring them into the production process.

This humanizes the work you’re doing and allows customers to see themselves in your blog posts. Here are a few fun ideas to try:

Facebook Crowdsourcing

Ask a question on Facebook and include all the answers in a blog post.

Example: A home cleaning business might ask: “What is your favorite DIY method for getting rid of stains? Share with us in the comments and we’ll feature the best responses in an upcoming blog post!” Many other brands have done similar Facebook crowdsourcing, including Greggs and Lays.

Host a Monthly “Featured Customer”

This is a fun way to provide more social proof for your brand while making posts relatable.

Example: A kitchen retailer can do a Q&A with a customer who likes to cook. The customer can share their favorite recipes and kitchen appliances. They may even be able to share different ways they use a product of yours, giving other customers new ideas. Take this to the next level, like Patagonia did, and create an entire customer-story blog.

Making your blog posts more relatable boosts engagement with your content and your brand.

The best part: all of these ideas are relatively simple to implement, allowing you to test the waters with your customers and find just the right amount of relatability to keep them interested.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Jessica Thiefels

Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s been featured on Forbes and has written for sites such as Lifehack, Inman, Manta, StartupNation and more. When she’s not working, she’s enjoying sunny San Diego with her husband and friends or traveling somewhere new. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

SEO for Ecommerce

SEO for Ecommerce: Do the Big Shopping Carts Get It Right?

SEO is probably the most important marketing channel for success in ecommerce, since a full 89% of customers begin their buying process with a search engine.

If you run a small-to-medium ecommerce store, you probably look to the big shopping carts to learn how to do SEO right. That’s a smart move, but remember that they’re not all perfect.

Here’s a closer look at how the biggest shopping carts on the web take on search engines.

Amazon

I took a look at a few of Amazon’s product pages, and I wasn’t surprised to see they followed all the ecommerce on-page SEO best practices.

What stood out the most was their opportunities to keyword-optimize: the pages include “About the Product” and “Product Details” sections where they could naturally optimize for the right keywords without stuffing.

However, I was surprised to see a huge “From the Manufacturer” section, where they included text, images, and extra specifications straight from the manufacturer:

This is something ecommerce sellers should tread carefully with – if Google sees all your product pages copy text from somewhere else on the web (the manufacturers), they could consider it to be duplicate content and penalize you for it.

In this case, it looks like Amazon wrote their own descriptions as well, so maybe the pages are unique enough for Google.

Of the big shopping carts I reviewed, Amazon was the only one I found to have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword:

Cannibalizing your keyword juice like this isn’t advisable if you’re trying to get your business on the first page of search results.

You don’t want two of your own pages competing for position against each other. Instead, invest in that keyword on one page alone.

For Amazon, though, since they’re the biggest shopping cart in the world, the advice might go the other way.

Amazon regularly has several pages ranking for the same keyword appear on the first page of search. They’re trying to dominate the market, and it’s working.

I could easily spend this whole post talking about Amazon’s SEO, but let’s move on to some other sites.

Taobao

Taobao is a Chinese ecommerce site, and it’s the second-largest in the world next to Amazon. They’ve made efforts to internationalize their business, so I decided to type “Taobao USA” into Google.

This was the first result:

Looks like they still have some kinks to work out for their international audience.

When I clicked on the link I got an error page. After that, I tried to run Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test on their page, but their robots.txt file wouldn’t allow this either.

Their domestic SEO could be great for all I know, so I’ll give them a break for now.

Alibaba

Alibaba allows you to easily browse their collections and view prices in your own currency, which is great:

But once you click on a product to get some more information, they ask you to log in:

I couldn’t even look at a product page without setting up an account. That’s a problem for user experience.

I ran Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test on their site and can confirm they’ve done their job in that area:

Someone with deeper access to the site will have to tell you the rest!

Flipkart

Flipkart is an electronics ecommerce company founded in Bangalore, India. They boast 102.4 billion INR in revenue.

Flipkart’s URLs are optimized to maximize keyword juice in search results:

A lot of ecommerce stores like to include site structure categories in their URLs. For example: www.yoursite.com/womens/outdoors/sassy-7-skis/

This reduces the power of your target keyword in search results.

Some ecommerce sites make the mistake of not using their target keyword at all in the URL, sticking with numerical product IDs.

But Flipkart does it right, by prioritizing their product keywords in their URLs.

While looking at their URLs, I also noticed they use HTTPS security encryption. That’s just good business, since it helps you protect your customers’ personal information.

In terms of SEO, Google does index SSL certificates – and HTTPS is a known rank factor.

Flipkart appears to have their bases covered in terms of on-page SEO best practices. They include a variety of helpful images:

And their product descriptions appear to be uniquely written, not copied from the manufacturer.

Walmart

One area many ecommerce SEOs forget about is Google Image Search. But if Google finds images that are relevant to a keyword, they will include a sampling of them in regular Google searches.

This gives businesses an opportunity to take up more real estate on the first page of search results and show off their product in the process.

It looks like Walmart is optimizing their images for SEO, as the first image result for my pet bed search belonged to them:

The images that followed it came from other sites I had never heard of, despite the fact that this same product is available on several big shopper sites.

And while Walmart is ahead in their image SEO, they could still do better.

Their landing page for this product only contains one image of the pet bed:

If they included multiple images (different colors, different angles, etc.) and optimized them all for SEO, they could probably monopolize Google Image Search results for this product.

I’d also like to point out Walmart’s use of ultra-long-tail keywords for the same products that are available on Amazon:

Even when you’re Walmart, competing against the granddaddy of online sales is grueling. By taking advantage of long-tail keywords, Walmart increases their chances of appearing in the top spot when people search for specific things.

It worked out in this case – they were the number-one result.

Snapdeal

I can’t talk about ecommerce SEO without discussing product reviews.

All the ecommerce sites I looked at passed the product-review test with flying colors (except for Alibaba, because I couldn’t access their product pages), but let’s look at Snapdeal as an example of how to do it right.

They have prominent review summaries right at the top of each product page:

When you scroll down, you get more information and the reviews themselves:

Product reviews can also show up in search results if you use structured data, making them even more valuable.

It’s hard to tell if a website is making the most of structured data for SEO, because Google may or may not display it in search results. But by the looks of it, a lot of the big shopping carts are taking advantage:

Takeaways From the Big Shopping Carts


For the most part, it looks to me like the big ecommerce stores have their SEO bases covered. I’m not surprised – they must be doing something right to have gotten this big on the web.

To wrap things up, here are a few takeaways to keep your own ecommerce store at the top of its game:

Avoid keyword cannibalization

Unless your site’s the cream of the ecommerce crop, you do not want multiple pages competing for the same keyword. Make sure similar products have their own target keyword, and regularly check what keywords your pages might rank for inadvertently.

Optimize your URLs

Keep your URLs as simple as possible to make the most of target keywords for SEO. Avoid including extra words or phrases you’re not interested in ranking for.

Make the most of image search

Optimize your image file names before uploading them by including your target keyword. Always fill out your alt tags with relevant, keyword-rich phrases.

Use structured data

Structured data will help extra information about your products (prices, reviews, specifications, etc.) appear in search results. Extra info can encourage clicks and improve SEO.

Google has a Structured Data Markup Helper you can use to create structured data for your site.

Know the value of ultra-long-tail keywords

If your products are available on a lot of other ecommerce sites, consider targeting ultra-long-tail keywords with your product pages. People making more specific product searches might find your page first.

Avoid duplicate content

Always create your own product descriptions, instead of copying and pasting the manufacturers’. If you sell several similar products, make sure the descriptions on those product pages aren’t overly similar.

Never forget your product reviews

For a lot of searchers, if they show up at your ecommerce site and don’t immediately see third-party opinions of your products, they may hit the back button and go elsewhere to find them. A high bounce rate is bad for SEO, so make your product reviews prominent on every page.

Mobile-optimize your site

Make sure your site has a responsive design by using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Use security encryption

Security encryption will help keep your site safe and your customers happy. Google recommends HTTPS and has a help page on securing your site with it.

How does your site’s SEO compare to the big shopping carts? Tell us in the comments:

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Aaron Agius

Aaron Agius is an experienced search, content and social marketer. He has worked with some of the world’s largest and most recognized brands to build their online presence. See more from Aaron at Louder Online, their Blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. View all posts by Aaron Agius

Boost Engagement and Leads with Interactive Content

How to Boost Engagement and Leads with Interactive Content

Having a great product or service is great, but it’s pretty much pointless if nobody knows about it, which means that marketing is just as important as the quality of our product, because that’s how you get the customers’ attention.

But what do you do once you have their attention? Well, the next logical step is to work on keeping it, because you want to persuade them to take action. You want them to engage.

And speaking of engagement, here are some numbers gathered by Content Marketing Institute in two amazing researches for B2B and B2C the past few years:

Business-to-Business Marketing

  • 47% of B2B marketers identified the production of engaging content as one of their biggest challenges by rating it as the third largest challenge back in 2014
  • 54% of them did the same in 2015, only this time they ranked it as their top challenge
  • In 2016, that number rose to a massive 60%

Consumer Marketing

  • 51% of B2C marketers rated engagement as their second biggest challenge in 2014
  • The number dropped by only 1 percent in 2015 (50%)
  • In 2016, the percentage grew to 56%, with engagement becoming the top challenge

Simply put, creating engaging content is a problem for more than half of the content marketers, and things aren’t looking up, because there is more and more competition every year.

Although it’s in their job description to create brilliant content, such as text, infographics, video, or podcasts, which will be read, viewed, or listened to, content marketers aren’t able to produce the user engagement they want, because that sort of content creates a passive experience for the reader, because it’s static. In order for engagement to take place, the content needs to become a two-way street.

It should come as no surprise that interactive content is in high demand. According to Buzzstream, the most popular content in 2013 on places like BuzzFeed and the New York Times have been quizzes.

Also, according to John Hammond, who is a content manager for Essayontime writing service, interactive content is all the rage nowadays:

We’ve been getting a lot of requests from our clients to create interactive content for them. On top of that, we rely on interactive content ourselves, not only to engage our potential customers, but also to find out more about our clients, their needs, and their habits, so that we can provide a better service for them.

Let’s check out some examples of the most popular interactive content:

  • Quizzes
  • Polls and surveys
  • Calculators (which allow you to calculate the cost of the service or a package you want to purchase)
  • Assessments (for example, personality or benchmarking tests)
  • Configurators (when putting together a new custom PC, for instance)
  • Interactive galleries and look books
  • Brackets (they resemble a tournament-like competition which encourages the user to stay engaged until the very end)
  • Interactive ebooks and whitepapers
  • Interactive infographics
  • Videos

Putting Together an Engaging Quiz


There are a lot of ingredients that go into creating a successful quiz. First, you need to consider the context and the channel where you will promote your quiz, which will also influence its content. Not only should it be relevant, but it should also have the right tone.

As far as topics are concerned, you can either go with something that is trendy and timely, or stick with ideas that are timeless and classic.

Perhaps the main reason why people like quizzes is to satisfy their curiosity, and that can only happen if they walk away from it having learned something new, or simply by having fun. And if they’ve enjoyed it, make it easier for them to share it with their friends.

Your quiz should always feature a question in its title, because that is how you invite viewers to find out more about your company or themselves, or to test their existing knowledge.

While your quiz should be based on questions, there is no reason why you shouldn’t include some interesting images, especially if they are relevant to the content of the quiz.

As far as your writing style is concerned, you are free to make it more fun and humorous, or even irreverent. But, make sure the quiz doesn’t go on for too long, and that it’s easy to complete.

The outcomes should not be too harsh or negative, but positive and enlightening. After all, you are creating interactive content not just to inspire your audience members to take action, but also to improve their user experience.

Mapping the Buyer’s Journey by Using Interactive Content


Customers in digital world are going through buyer’s journey most of the way before they give a sale their time. We are all about studying, researching, comparing options and prices.

Nowadays Marketing takes a Sales function: marketers must create content that educates and maintains relationships.

Interactive content should be produced to help buyers on their journey, as well as enhance overall experience. Main advantage of interactive content is its ability to invoke conversation.

While you create interactive content, think about buyers’ journey stages.

First Stage – Awareness

During this stage, potential buyers are curious and want to find out what else is out there. Your goal should be to get their attention and get your brand/service/product on their radar. The types of interactive content most suitable at this stage are:

  • Self-assessments
  • Polls and surveys
  • Knowledge tests
  • Interactive infographics
Second Stage – Evaluation

At this point, they are considering different options. Because you have gotten their attention during the first phase, you will be able to provide more information in case they need it and assist them in their evaluation. The sort of interactive content which works best in this case:

  • Benchmark assessments
  • Persona assessments
  • Interactive whitepapers
Third Stage – Decision Making

At this stage, buyers are focused on making the best decision, and getting the most for the money they’re going to pay. This is where you convince them that your product or service is a worthwhile investment, and help them overcome their reservations and fears. Best type of content at this stage:

  • Calculator
  • Galleries
  • Product pickers

Need More Help on Creating Interactive Content?


If you are still not sure where to start, you can take your existing content and break it down into key points which contain your main ideas, and then turn them into a quiz.

Make use of your buyer personas and map them to personality tests. Also, combine your knowledge of the prospect’s pain points and your research to create an interactive infographic or whitepaper.

You can repurpose your webinars and transform them into assessments, as well. Information about your products and your pricing plans can easily be turned into configurators and calculators, respectively.

Best Channels for Interactive Content


  • Your blog
  • Email
  • Paid media
  • Facebook and Twitter

Best Apps and Resources to Help You Create Interactive Content


  • SnapApp – A platform to create, publish, manage, and analyze interactive content, including video(via partnerships) Has individual and enterprise annual plans.
  • Interact – A platform to produce custom quizzes. Has monthly plans.
  • Ceros Digital – Digital platform that can help marketers add interactivity to static design along with design and production services.
  • Playbuzz  – Free platform that can help marketers create a wide variety of interactive content.
  • Riddle.com – First mobile platform to create quizzes, polls, lists, personality tests. Free and paid monthly plans.

Conclusion


Getting the people to pay attention to your brand and products is definitely a challenge, but the solution lies within interactive content.

Test the tips and resources we have shared in this article and create some interactive content of your own. Good luck!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Author: Brenda Savoie

Brenda Savoie is a content marketer, private English tutor, and desperate dreamer. Writing her first romantic novel. Seeking contentment through mindfulness.

SEO Using You Tube-Ranking Higher in Google Video Search

SEO for YouTube – Ranking Higher in Google Video Search

YouTube is an amazing success story and it’s hard to remember a time when it didn’t exist.

But it did and, back then, the world was a very different place. The internet was slow and cumbersome, and video could only be consumed via the TV or on media such as VHS tapes.

The world changed in 2005 when the first video was uploaded to a new service called “YouTube” on 23rd of April that year. It was called “Me at the zoo” and featured the site’s co-founder, explaining why elephants are so “cool”. He wraps up with the immortal words “and that’s pretty much all there is to say” before the video abruptly ends.

Only, that wasn’t all that would be said on this embryonic platform – not by a long stretch.

By 2006, YouTube had turned into one of the fastest growing websites on the Internet and in November that year it was acquired by Google for an estimated $1.65bn.

Clearly, if Google valued it that highly, YouTube’s influence on web video was only going to climb further into the stratosphere.

Real Estate SEO Using You TubeFast forward to 2017, and YouTube has over a billion users. This remarkable growth has spawned a new generation of filmmakers occupying everything from their spare room to professionally outfitted studios and has put content consumption levels through the roof; people simply can’t get enough of online video.

Marketing professionals consider video to be one of their most important routes to market, which is no wonder when you look at the latest statistics on video marketing. The numbers involved are, often, mind boggling.

Of course, the fact that YouTube is owned by Google has undoubtedly contributed to shifting what was once a platform for bedroom video bloggers and clumsily-shot home videos into a far more serious advertising and content marketing channel.

Another very important statistic – especially from a search engine optimisation (SEO) perspective – is that YouTube is now the second largest search engine.

It’s easy to forget that we often head directly for its search bar whenever we want to find the answer to something. Shunning Google in that manner represents a compelling change in the habitual behaviour of internet users and hints further at just how “sticky” a medium video is on the web.

In addition, video results from YouTube often appear within the organic search results on Google itself.

This makes the king of the video sharing platforms very attractive to all SEO agencies, but have you ever thought of combining SEO tactics with YouTube? The results can be very rewarding.

Of course, to take full advantage of the opportunities YouTube has to offer from an SEO perspective, you need to be able to rank your video content. This is a challenge, but one that is uniquely addictive once you dip your toes into it.

In this post, I’m going to explain how you can rank your video content on YouTube.

YouTube Ranking Factors and how to rank your videos on YouTube


Before we get started – a little caveat. As with all ranking factors in SEO, the collection I’ll be listing below is based on observation, correlation and personal experiences. We shouldn’t forget that Google always keeps its cards close to its chest.

The team behind the world’s largest search engine have never revealed the exact ranking factors that are used, nor are they ever likely to do so. Sure, we’ll see the occasional blog post hinting at a ranking factor or two, but there is no “official” list, as such.

This means we have no choice but to rely on experience, intelligent guesswork and, occasionally, the odd bit of good fortune. This has been the case for traditional SEO for many years and things are no different when it comes to video.

OK, so you want to rank on YouTube for some keywords. The first step – just as with any SEO campaign – is deciding on what you want to rank for.

The constituent elements of SEO have remained consistent for a long time, but they rely on some creativity and focus on your part if they’re to prove successful. In particular, you need to be strategic when it comes to deciding upon the keywords for which you’d like to rank.

Think about the content of your video, your niche and the target audience. How does the latter use search engines? What kind of questions are they asking? What phrases and subtle nuances are they likely to type into search bars to find what they want?

Conduct your keyword research just as you would any SEO campaign before you go anywhere near YouTube SEO. It’ll be time well spent – trust me!

When you’re ready, read on!

YouTube Ranking Factors


Video Title – similar to page titles on webpages, this is one of the most important ranking factors. Be sure to include your keywords within the main keyword at beginning. Make it descriptive and interesting and remember that, for as important as ranking is, you still want people to feel compelled enough to click on it.

Video Description – this is similar to the body content of a webpage in SEO. Don’t be lazy – aim for a minimum of three-hundred words and make sure that you make good use of your keywords by including the most important within the first paragraph. If the goal of your video is to drive traffic to your website, then be sure to include a link at the very top of your video description, too.

Video Filename – one of your easiest SEO tasks; treat it as you would image files on your website.

Video Tags – use relevant keywords as tags to help YouTube understand the content of your video. Add as many as you see fit but do not spam.

Video Length – there is no golden rule when it comes to video length (the first ever video uploaded to YouTube was just nineteen seconds long, setting something of an admirable precedence) and let’s not forget that the focus here is on ranking. That said, on average, longer videos often seem to perform better.

This can, of course, vary from niche to niche, so do your research and check out the length of the videos that rank top for your keywords (just keep in mind that there are other ranking factors involved as well).

Generally speaking, it’s best to follow your nose; if a video feels like it’s the right length, go with it and ignore industry norms.

Subtitles & Closed Captions. Captions are “crawlable” which means – yes, you’ve guessed it – search engine “spiders” or bots have an easy time digesting their contents. Having subtitles and closed campions present on your videos will also help with accessibility, enabling people with hearing impairments as well as those from foreign countries to enjoy your content unabated.

User Engagement – this is something of a catch 22 situation as it’s rather difficult to achieve high volumes of user engagement without focusing on ranking, yet you need user engagement to help you rank. It’s a bit like that first-ever job search when you’re constantly asked for experience you haven’t had time to build.

There are ways around this, though, and one of the methods you can use to get more views while increasing your YouTube ranking is to embed video on your blog and encourage others to embed and link to your video.

Share this type of content on your social media channels and, if necessary, use paid promotion to give your video that extra push. Equally, if you have an email list then you should definitely consider including a link to your video within your next newsletter.

Thumbnails – although not a ranking factor, these can make a huge difference when it comes to click-through rates. People often like to see what’s contained within a video before deciding whether or not to view it, and by offering thumbnails, you’re giving them the perfect mini preview of your content.

This in turn will give you more views and better rankings. YouTube will automatically generate a thumbnail for your video, but avoid taking the easy route and instead create your own hand-picked thumbnails, as these will almost certainly perform better.

Other important engagement factors are likes and comments. You can influence both by having clear call-to-actions at the end of your video. This is why you will so often hear YouTubers say at the end of their pieces “please like, comment, share and subscribe if you enjoyed this video”.

Your YouTube channel – having a strong and well optimized channel will help with your video rankings. Make sure you write a description for your channel’s “About” section and use the channel keywords feature in YouTube’s advanced settings.

Last but not least


It should probably go without saying, but your videos should be high quality and focused on delivering value to your viewers, be it in the form of actionable information or entertainment. After all, the best SEO in the world will fall flat if it doesn’t have good content to work with!

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Real Estate SEO Using You Tube

Author: Izabela Wisniewska

Izzy is an SEO freelancer specializing in white hat link building, blogger outreach & content marketing.

Real Estate SEO-Do You Really Need It?

Real Estate SEO-Do You Really Need It?

Does Your Small Business Really Need SEO?

By Brooke Preston, Manta Contributor – January 30, 2017

Real Estate SEO-Do You Really Need It?

On the fence about SEO?

Here are four ways search engine optimization can improve your small business marketing.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a low-cost marketing tactic that helps boost your rankings in internet search engine (Google, Bing and the like) results. However, contractors and other business owners often question if SEO for small business can really be time- and cost-effective for them. Here’s what you need to know:

  • If you sell or market your business online, SEO is a must. SEO is necessary “whenever you want to attract customers to your website, or whenever you want to sell your products or services online,” said Kevin John Gallagher, director of client success for marketing firm Stargazer Digital. SEO also helps you stand out from competitors.
  • More mobile searches make SEO more important than ever for small local businesses. To understand how SEO can help your company reach customers through their smartphones or computers, think of your own behavior, suggested Antonella Pisani, owner of retail discount website Official Coupon Code. She explains, “When you go to a new store, restaurant or even doctor, you likely start on Google or another search engine, right?” Pisani said. Being found on search engines is critical for large, small, local and ecommerce businesses alike.
  • SEO generally offers higher impact (over time) and lower cost than almost any digital marketing tool. In fact, for small companies without millions (or sometimes even hundreds) to spend on mass media advertising, SEO is a low-cost way to drive web and foot traffic. Although there are plenty of paid SEO tools and professional firms, you can begin implementing SEO best practices for free.
  • Even if your business doesn’t have an official website, you can still benefit from SEO. If your company doesn’t have a website, you can still take steps to help customers find you online. Establish your web presence on business listing directories like Manta, Yelp and Google My Business. “Online business listings, or citations are critical for local and overall search engine optimization,” said Brandon Wright, chief marketing officer for Salt Lake City-based digital marketing agency ThoughtLab.

Generating More Leads for Your Business

Generating More Leads
for Your Business

Validate Online Leads To Generate Many More Of Them

Because ongoing testing of the website and marketing campaigns is essential for successful lead generation marketing, a company is only as good as its data.

Surprisingly, most lead generation marketers fall short on what is the most important piece of data there is – sales lead production.

Most companies track website conversions, the number of form submissions and phone calls generated by Internet marketing campaigns.

Conversion data is used in testing and marketing campaign evaluations. And while most companies realize conversion data is somewhat fuzzy, we wonder if any realize how utterly murky conversion data really is.

In the course of processing more than 600,000 website conversions from our agency website and client websites, we unearthed a very important (and surprising) bit of data: Half of website conversions were something other than sales leads.

What were the non-leads? Things such as spam, misdials, uncompleted forms, sales solicitations, personal phone calls, and customer service inquiries.

Bottom line: Conversion data is half wrong, and is therefore all wrong for serious lead generation marketing.

What Is Lead Validation?

Lead validation, which we used to process the 600,000 leads, involves listening to recordings of phone conversions and reading all website form submissions, to separate true sales leads from non-leads.

The lead validation process proved so valuable we have made it standard procedure in all of our agency and client SEO and PPC campaigns.

Why Lead Validation Generates More Leads and More Value

Lead validation is rather time consuming, but is well worth the investment for a number of critical reasons.

  • First and most important, having accurate lead data enables Internet marketing campaign managers to test and improve campaigns with laser accuracy. Conversion data alone is misleading. For instance, a given PPC keyword can generate lots of conversions but relatively few leads.

When lead production for keywords becomes visible to the campaign manager, he or she can put the emphasis where it belongs. The cumulative effect of testing based on leads rather than conversions is far more rapid growth in lead production.

  • Lead validation helps company leadership make far more accurate assessments of the productivity of their Internet marketing campaigns. Since most campaign reports fail to distinguish leads from non-leads, and instead lump everything into a single bucket, leaders often get a false and overstated impression of how their marketing investments are paying off.

Having hard lead data makes reporting more transparent and meaningful, giving companies the ability to make intelligent decisions about which campaigns to ramp up and which to ramp down.

  • Lead validation helps sales teams close more deals. Suppose the lead validator reviews a form submission from a CEO involving a $100,000 purchase.

The lead validator can bring this inquiry to the sales manager’s attention immediately, giving him or her the ability to bypass the standard follow-up procedure and go the extra mile to lock down that lead. (This is why we recommend doing lead validation in real time or as close to it as possible.)

  • Lead validation brings other efficiencies to the sales team. Another good practice for lead validation is turning over phone recordings to the sales department.

When sales management listens to recordings of phone inquiries, they often spot flaws in how the calls are being handled. A bit of training can create major improvements in close rates.

  • Lead validation improves sales department morale and execution. Happy sales teams are productive, and getting a continuous flow of high-quality leads from the marketing department makes them very happy.

The norm is quite different though; companies without validation dump undifferentiated conversions on sales teams, burdening them with follow-up on dead end after dead end.

Eventually, sales departments grow cynical about the business value of their marketing departments and website investment. None of this is conducive to good marketing or sales execution.

For more detail and insight about the value of lead validation, review my analysis, The Critical Importance of Lead Validation in Internet Marketing.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of  Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Generating More Leads for Your Business

Author: Aaron Wittersheim

SEO for 2017 – Google’s “Mobile First” World

 

Google’s Mobile First Index: What It Means for the Future of SEO

Searches on mobile devices grow higher every year. In 2015, there were more searches on mobile than on desktop – a first for the industry, and a sign of the booming mobile user base.

Shifts such as these result in big changes from Google, and nothing feels the effects more than the world of SEO. As of late, Google has been increasing their efforts to provide better mobile experiences for their users. The most recent of these is the mobile first index.

Google began experimenting with the mobile first index in early November. This experiment will divide desktop and mobile results, allowing Google to primarily use the mobile version of a site rather than the desktop version to rank it. This brings up two important questions the SEO industry has to ask:

1. Why is Google making this change?

The mobile first index can be seen as a direct response to the way people use Google these days. Users mostly search on mobile, and many times they get sub-optimal results due to scaling issues, obtrusive ads, etc.

mobile5-google-1900px-1442579350
Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Google has released another user-focused features such as Accelerated Mobile Pages, which streamline the kind of sites users encounter to ensure good mobile experiences. Now, with the mobile first index, Google is applying that same concept into the results they show. The second question is a bit more complicated:

2. How will the mobile first index affect the future of SEO?

Google is constantly changing things up, which always makes for an exciting, if sometimes hectic, time for the SEO industry.

But when something like the mobile first index appears – something with the potential to make serious waves in the industry – everyone must prepare for the impact. To deal with the impending changes the mobile first index will bring, we must first identify the most likely aftereffects. Additionally, we need to make a few educated guesses as to how it could affect what’s already in place.

Don’t walk into Google’s mobile first world blindly. Position your business to benefit the most from it, and you’ll set yourself up for success.

The Mobile First Index Will Significantly Impact Certain Sites

We’d like to start our analysis with a word of warning: Your site may need heavy revisions before the mobile first index rolls out fully. Because the new index will split desktop and mobile results, any site that isn’t prepared to deal with these changes could be in for hard times.

  • Searches performed on a mobile device will no longer show results for desktop, and vice versa.
  • Mobile will become Google’s primary index.

Two types of sites in particular will have difficulty:

Desktop sites without a mobile version may run into trouble once the mobile first index takes full effect. Once it becomes the primary index, Google will begin indexing your website using the mobile Googlebot, whether it’s a mobile version or desktop version.

Although Google has said it will “continue to index your desktop site just fine” even if you don’t have a mobile site, you might not show up as well in the new index. However, Google also says a functioning desktop site “can be better than broken or incomplete mobile version of [a] site.”

That’s good news, but really this is just a “better than nothing” outcome, as even a working desktop site can be better than a half-baked mobile site. Ideally, what Google wants is a functional mobile site to better serve the large mobile user base.

Different mobile and desktop sites are also a cause for concern. Google says issues occur when “the mobile page has less content than the desktop page,” as the algorithms can’t properly evaluate the actual page the user is looking at. The solution is to have the same content and structured data across both mobile and desktop sites. If your mobile site has less content than your desktop, it might not rank as well once Google fully switches over to the mobile first index.

Both types of sites are ill-equipped for Google’s mobile future. Failure to make the necessary changes could have drastic consequences for your business’s online success.

So how can you prepare for the future of SEO in a mobile first world?

We highly suspect the following trends will become apparent once the mobile first index fully releases. Take steps to change them now; we think the full release will happen sooner than later.

Increased Importance on Page Speed

As of late, many sites have prioritized increasing their page speed to improve the user experience on mobile and desktop. However, since websites typically load more slowly on mobile devices, ensuring an acceptable page speed on mobile sites will be even more critical.

Kissmetrics says users will completely leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is a huge issue for mobile, as users demand near-instant results. They want to order the goods or services without running into any major hurdles. With the mobile first index, fast page speed is set to become the deciding factor in getting prospective customers to choose your site over your competition’s.

Increased Role of AMP

Accelerated Mobile Pages, also known as AMP, could see more usage after the release of the mobile first index. AMP offers fast, streamlined versions of pages specially suited for mobile devices.

google-mobile3-double-ss-1920
Source: Search Engine Land

These pages can appear within the normal Google search results, as well as in distinct content carousels that offer up timely or relevant information. AMP pages are available in a number of popular search categories such as news and recipes, and Google is working on implementing even more.

It’s likely that AMP will continue to play a major role in providing a fast and user-friendly experience as Google continues to push their mobile narrative.

At the time of this writing, AMP is not yet ready or suitable for wide adoption, however, this will likely change as improvements are continually made to the framework and plugins available. So if you haven’t built any AMP pages yet, you still have time to implement them before they become a real game-changer.

Increased Emphasis on Structured Data to Prominently Feature Results

Structured Data will be critical to make your mobile result stand out above the competition. Structured data organizes your mobile site’s data to be more digestible for Google’s crawlers, which could allow your site a higher position in the search results.

With structured data, Google can feature your site in article carousels, rich cards, and other prominent search results. These placements in the results can give you an edge over the competition, as they can make your page visually stand out from the “10 blue links” people are used to seeing.

Optimizing for Longer Title Tags

When a user initially performs a search query, the title tags are the primary element that gets them to click on your site. They are the first thing a user sees when viewing the results of their query, and they can make or break a user’s interest on whether to click it or not. Right now, title tags are slightly longer on mobile SERPs compared to desktop SERPs. It’s possible that title tags will be optimized to 70 characters moving forward instead of the 60-65 we’re used to.

Longer title tags may actually help you with Google’s mobile initiative because they help you show more information about your pages. An extra 5-10 characters may not seem like a lot, but if you use them to enhance your landing page, you can draw customers in with strategic, targeted wording. For certain pages like product listings, the extra characters could be enough to add a “free shipping” label. Mobile users looking to snag a good deal would see that label and be more inclined to click.

Links Will (Likely) Still Play a Major Role

Links are known in the SEO industry as the most significant factor in Google’s ranking algorithms. However, links don’t quite have that star treatment on mobile.

Google has said people link out less often to the mobile version of a URL compared to a desktop version. And since the majority of sites use responsive design these days, the implications of a mobile first index don’t appear to be a game-changer to links and their importance as a ranking factor.

On the other hand, don’t think that links will see a decrease in use with the onset of the mobile first index. Gary Illyes recently said on Twitter that it was hard to rank without links.

He later clarified, saying that external links “translate in some sense to popularity and endorsement by others.” So Google will still look at external links to offer up the best results to mobile users. Without such a filter, users will get less than optimal search results, and Google wants to avoid this outcome at all costs.

Heading into the Google’s Mobile First World

Change is unavoidable in the world of SEO, but you need to have a plan for the mobile first index. To meet the changes head-on and secure a successful SEO future for your site, you need to have the right preparations in order:

  • Functional desktop and mobile versions
  • Fast page speed
  • Structured data
  • Strategic title tags
  • Healthy, natural links

Google has not said when the mobile first index will fully roll out, but this first “experiment” was released mere weeks after Google announced the mobile and desktop split.

In all likelihood, Google will continue to tweak it until it’s ready, and even then the final version will undergo many changes to refine it and improve it for users.

One thing’s for sure – the mobile first index will bring significant changes with it. Will you be ready when it arrives?

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Web Design and SEO of Carolinas, its staff, or its partners.

Author: John Caiozzo

John Caiozzo is an SEO Analyst at SEO Inc., one of the top Search Engine Optimization companies in the world since 1997. John specializes in creating advanced technical SEO solutions and strategies to drive more traffic and conversions to client websites. View all posts by John Caiozzo