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Indianapolis SEO

Indianapolis SEO

5 Ways Your CMS Can Help Your On-page SEO

Posted 5:35 PM by

CMS Selection ProcessSelecting a content management system can be a daunting task.  On the surface, many of these systems appear to have the same level of functionality and the ability to accomplish many of the same tasks.  While one blog post isn’t enough to compare each and every feature that a good CMS should have, it is perfect to discuss one subset – Search Engine Optimization capability.  Since SEO is seemingly at the forefront of every site owner’s mind, here are five things that your content management system should allow you to do (in no particular order):

 

1. Create Search Engine Friendly URLs

Each time that you create a page, a new blog post, or add a product to your store (if applicable), your site’s CMS should create a search engine friendly URL for the new content.  Not only does this make it easier for the search engine to determine the topic of the page, it is much easier for a human to determine if the page is applicable for their search.  If you’re not sure if your URL is search engine friendly, take a look at a subpage, blog post or product page…if it makes sense to read, there is a good chance it is search friendly.  If it contains strings of question marks and numbers, it may be time to look into a new CMS. 

2. Create Unique Title Tags, Meta Description Tags, and H1 Tags for Each Page

Probably the most important aspect of on-page SEO is the ability to create unique title tags for each page.  Title tags are still a determining factor for search rankings (although a bit diminished), and they definitely help with usability of the site as well.  Meta description tags aren’t factored into search rankings any longer, but they can help increase the click-through rate to a specific page and feature calls to action.  Each page should also contain one H1 tag to tell the user the exact topic of the page.

3. Manage Alt Image Tags

Accurate alt image tags help increase the chances that your website’s images will be returned in an image search. Alt image tags are simple 3-5 word descriptions for what the topic of the image is. Every image on your site should have a unique alt image tag.

4. Built In Blogging Software

Blogging is a great way to create keyword rich, sharable content around a certain topic.  Your CMS should feature a built in blogging software that makes it easy to add blog posts to your site.  These blog posts should be open to comments from readers, feature the ability to share on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google’s +1, as well as an RSS Feed.  The content should be displayed in a chronological order, be searchable, and created with friendly URL’s as described above.

5. Create Permanent Redirects

One of the often overlooked aspects of creating content using a CMS is the ability to set up permanent redirects. 404 errors are unacceptable as far as good SEO’s are concerned, so having the ability to create permanent (301) redirects to live content is a must. This is especially important for larger sites that are updated often.

Collaboration is KeySide Note - Keep in mind there are more factors that go into a CMS selection than just the SEO capabilities of the platform.  The fact of the matter is that the selection of a CMS should go hand in hand with website design, SEO vendor selection, social media strategy determination, and overall online branding evaluation.  These different aspects of Internet marketing have become their own industries, with specialists excelling in each vertical.  The most successful websites that we have seen have been products of collaborative efforts between software providers, service providers, agencies, and the client itself.  After all, there is nothing worse than hearing the words “We just launched our newly designed website, can you help us with the content management strategy, SEO, or insert another service here. ”

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Focusing Your Efforts on Foundational SEO

Posted 9:19 AM by

Foundational SEO It is no secret that the way Google ranks sites is constantly evolving and changing.  It has been doing so since its inception more than a decade ago, which is a good thing.  Think about it, the web has changed dramatically over this same time.  We've seen websites evolve from online brochures to true marketing hubs for companies and organizations.  We've seen the power of e-commerce truly emerge with companies like Amazon leading the charge.  We've seen the dawn of a new technology called social networking and with it, have seen a site like Facebook become insanely popular.  Google had to change the way it ranks sites to keep up, but one thing they haven't changed is their mission:  Delivering the most relevant results to searchers as fast as possible.  

While Google changes its algorithm to better suit today's searchers, site owners are often left wondering what they can be sure of when it comes to ranking well.  For instance, Google may have just lowered the value of keyword heavy domains to give an equal opportunity for truly branded websites (think buy-hiking-shoes.com vs. zappos.com). Putting your entire stake in registering that perfect domain name might not matter so much.  This is just one example of a recent change, but you can rest assured that there are certain things that will remain important to Google, and those are:

  1. Content
    Nothing new here...content is king.  Creating unique, relevant content and promoting it through your website, blogs, emails, press releases, and social media can help establish your site as the expert on a given topic.  Make sure to establish a schedule for this content creation, and stick to it.
  2. On-Page SEO
    Structuring your website with good on-page SEO not only helps search engines determine what your website is about, it also helps visitors navigate your site properly.  A website without good URL structure, Title Tags, Heading Tags, etc, is like a city without street signs.  Try navigating a city for the first time without any guidance...the same thing happens when people land on your un-structured website.  Don't assume website visitors know what you do or sell.
  3. Links
    Counting the number of incoming links that a website has is the idea that separated the quality of Google's search rankings from all of the other players in the late 90's.  More links equaled more authority about a topic, which equaled better results for the searcher.  While the idea of counting links still exists, it is much more complex (this is still an understatement).  Simply having a lot of inbound links isn't what is important.  PageRank of the linking site, anchor text, placement of the link, and relevance are all taken into account now.  Attracting links these days should be done organically, by creating great content and promoting it through popular channels on the web.           

Since Google started, these three items have been a major part of the algorithm.  All signs are pointing to the fact that this will never change.  Sure, other factors influence ranking, and this list over simplifies the criteria, but focusing on great content, good website structure, and promotion of that content is a great start for any website looking to increase relevant traffic.

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Marketpath demystifies SEO for the Indianapolis Convention & Visitor’s Association

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Friday, February 27 - PR pros from ICVA organizations such as The Children’s Museum, the Indiana Historical Society, the Indiana Restaurant Association, Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Indians gathered at Conseco Fieldhouse yesterday to hear our very own Adam Brand and TJ Furman demystify search engine optimization (SEO). The discussion was targeted towards a public relations audience, but the broader message is relevant to anyone interested in SEO. We have made the materials- SEO for Pulic Relations available and welcome you to view them.

If you have ever searched for information about an event, restaurant or ticket sales in Indianapolis, you can appreciate why this group was interested in SEO. There is a lot going on in the Circle City and in a way they are all vying for a piece of our shrinking attention span. Stop updating your Facebook status! On Thursday, Adam and TJ explained how SEO makes content more easily found through keyword searches. No smoke and mirrors or complicated lingo. Nothing to be afraid of- SEO is our friend!

For example, I did a Google search for ‘Indianapolis St. Patrick’s Day’ to see what appeared first in the search results. It was: Indy Sports Foundation. They are promoting several events related to St. Patrick’s Day, but the company’s mission is to support amateur sports in central Indiana. This first page may give you all the St. Paddy’s Day parade information you were looking for, but you may stay and click around to learn more about the Foundation (I did). Being that first search result is important and SEO will help you get there.

The participants at the ICVA talk on Thursday had questions ranging from basic to advanced which demonstrated a range of experience. Regardless of your comfort level with SEO practices, intimidation should not be a factor in getting started. There are endless resources available to learn about SEO and once you get started you’ll be glad you did.

While it was only a 1 hour discussion, Adam and TJ laid building blocks for all of the PR pros in the room to begin thinking about how they can each create a foundation of SEO-based communication strategies that will work for their organization. If you are interested in learning more about SEO and how it relates to what you do, contact anyone at Marketpath and we can start a conversation.

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It's a big SEO pie and there's enough to go around.

Posted 8:08 PM by

I'm a big fan of search.  That may seem obvious, but when we consider how far we've come in the last few decades, it really is outstanding.  Search engine optimization is obviously good for business, but when you consider it in the context of the consumer it really is very important.  You have to look at the search market just like any other market.  It's always going to be difficult to get any group of people to do anything unless there is money in it.  It would be impossible for google to properly index the web if sites didn't take the proper SEO precautions.  With that in mind, there are literally hundreds of SEO guidelines and tools available to ensure that your site can be found.

This SEO piece is for meI'm a huge fan of website grader.  My favorite part about this tool is that it takes into account lots of different types of content and then ranks your site on a scale of one to a hundred.  This is supposed to somewhat accurately decide how well you will rise through the search rankings.  I especially like this site because it takes into account how much of any given SEO strategy you are using.  For example, if you have a lot of links, but are weak in other areas you will still rank favorably, because links are important.  If you are using blogging as a tool for inreasing your search rankings, then it takes the ranking of your blog into consideration.  It's also nice, because it provides simple and measurable steps that you can take to get it right. 

I like to think of the web as a kind of 'economics of information.'  It's very similar to actual economics, except that instead of money you pay in knowledge.  Now, of course you can pay good money for SEO knowledge, but the beauty of it is that much of the good information is already available for free.  SEO can be a bit of a crap shoot, but if you are representing yourself honestly there is no reason to believe that anything is impossible.  Web 2.0 is here and there is MUCH more content than there once was.  There is really a world for everyone here, and proper SEO practices will ensure that the best content for you rises to the top.  Some terms are indeed very competitive.  This competition keeps the web healthy.  It's a big pie and there's enought to go around.

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SEO Lessons Learned

Posted 5:33 PM by

I thought of several titles for today's post.  "All my eggs in one SEO basket"  "Count your search chickens before they hatch" even "Humpty Dumpty had a great SEO fall"  Why? Because I got complacent.  I never considered that I was vulnerable.  I never considered that the world was plotting against me.  Let's face it, I just wasn't smart enough to see what I was up against.

Humpty Dumpty had a great SEO fall!I know that the content in my blog gets indexed by Google.  As most people can tell you I'm totally obsessed with my blog right now, so naturally I've been blogging about the importance of corporate blogging and neglecting other keywords like SEO.  Consequentially, we no longer rank as high as we used to for SEO.  I'm upset.  In fact I'm down right mad.  I want my ranking.  I had it.  I worked for it.  Now I've lost it.  Let me set one thing straight Mr. Google;  we are search engine optimizers.  We are SEO experts.  We have something to say about search marketing.  Is that enough key words for you?  Can I have my 1st page ranking, please?

Let this be a lesson to all you corporate bloggers out there.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket.  Spread your topics out over all aspects of your business, or your competitors will gain ground.  You will sacrifice all that you've worked for.  You'll be forced to whine and cry like I am.  You'll end up down on your knees begging for Google's forgiveness.  Heed my warning.

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Promoting Your Site with CMS and SEO

Posted 4:30 PM by

Indianapolis | SEO | CMS | MarketingMarketing proffesionals all over the world are scrambling to beat their competition at the web race.  Who will finish first?  Who's marketing is the best marketing?  What techniques will put your company at the top. 

Search Engine Optimization is a buzzword that is currently circulating around the marketing world.  There are companies that charge tens of thousands of dollars, and still can't guarantee that your name will rank on the first page of the Google organic search. 

The truth is that there is no guarantee when it comes to SEO.  It is easy to rank for certain terms, because very few people are searching for them.  Other terms are nearly impossible to rank for. 

A good CMS is an integral part of attaining high organic search rankings.  If content has been posted recently, search engines look at it more seriously (would you rather read yesterday's newspaper or today's newspaper?).  Another powerful tool is the corporate blog.  I have a business associate who was able to significantly increase his search rankings simply by writing in his blog regularly.  We the people want new content!

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AJAX, Web 2.0, and SEO

Posted 7:37 PM by

In my last post I wrote about the downfalls of flash, search engine optimization, and direct linking.  Now it's time to talk about AJAX and web 2.0 and how search engines perceive the two.  First of alll, let's define AJAX and web 2.0.

AJAX is an achronym for Asynchronous Javascript And XML.  It provides web clients (e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari) a mechanism for delivering rich experiences for its users.  Google Suggest  is an example of an application that uses AJAX.  As you type, suggestions appear that you can click on to quickly select your topic.  Notice that the entire screen doesn't refresh.  Instead of the browser making a call back to the original web server for a whole new page (including suggestions) it only updates the list of suggestions by passing the typed characters to the server - using AJAX.  The amount of data is very small and the data returned is also very small.... thus very fast.

AJAX enables the concept of web 2.0 - the rich user experience.  It is a great idea to build in a rich experience that makes it easier and more inuitive for users to interact.  Our web content management system has an enormous amount of AJAX programming.  But the problem is with search engines.

AJAX is based on Javascript and Javascript is based on user events (e.g. mouse-up, mouse-down, click, etc).  Search engines don't have the capability to launch javascript events which means if your website's navigation is based on AJAX (which, again, uses Javascript) then search engines will not be able to index it.  This means the website pages you want people to find will not be found because they were never indexed. 

The moral of the story is to use AJAX sparingly if you want your website to be indexed by search engines and definitely do not setup your navigation with AJAX or Javascript.  Check with a knowledgeable software developer and SEO firm and ask them if your site is SEO friendly.

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Do-It-Yourself SEO

Posted 1:18 AM by

We tell clients all the time that we will help initiate a program to improve search results and help find the right keywords to use throughout their website.  We also say that the rest is basically up to them.  And because they are using a web content management solution (Marketpath CMS... of course) ongoing SEO is about producing lots of relevant content that engages website visitors. 

In his blog entry Three SEO Myths Debunked, Mike Volpe wrote 'If I had $100,000 to invest in SEO, I would hire a journalist to create lots of articles and videos, not an SEO consultant.'

There is only so much code tweaking you can do to optimize a website for search.  Hiring a firm on retainer to provide SEO consulting is like hiring GM on retainer to fill your gas tank once a week.  You definitely need GM to build the car but it is cost prohibitive to have them filling your gas tank. 

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Win-Win SEO

Posted 2:24 PM by

Today I am leading a discussion on Stephen Covey's 4th habit - Think Win-Win (The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People).  The underlying idea of this habit is that instead of thinking there is only a certain amount of pie for all to share it is better to adopt the idea that there is plenty of pie to go around for everyone - everyone wins.  Now you can apply this to relationships, your work, and any issues that arise from either.  You can't have Win-Win every time but you can sure try.

So what about search results?  Can you adopt the Win-Win mentality (Abundance Mentality) with search results?  This is a little more tricky.  On the first page search engines show 10 organic results they think are relevant to your search.  So, in this sense, there are only 10 positions to secure on that first page (and you definitely want the first page).  The pie is very limited.

The great thing about keyword searches is that there are usually a great number of variations.  The most popular variations get used often.  These are highly competitive keywords and limit your chances of obtaining high search engine position.  This is a very small pie indeed and getting a slice can cost you a lot of money and time.

But then there are those keyword combinations that are used much less frequently and can be used throughout your site to obtain a higher search position with a lot less work.  This is where the pie is almost unlimited. 

Here's an example:  if I live in Indianapolis (which I do) and I'm looking for a divorce attorney (which I'm not) I would likely type in "divorce attorney indianapolis".  Our client, Hollingsworth, Cassman, and Zivitz (http://www.hczlaw.com/), specialize in divorce.  Winning the top search positions for "divorce attorney" is nearly impossible.  But winning the search for "indianapolis divorce attorney" is a little more achievable.  And since they are based in Carmel, IN they have an even better shot at winning "carmel divorce attorney" (which they do).  You can take that further and strive for the following less competitive keyword phrases:

  • divorce attorney indianapolis
  • divorce indiana
  • divorce lawyer carmel
  • divorce questions indiana
  • marital divorce issues
  • avoiding divorce
  • divorce attorney fishers (a town near Carmel)
  • divorce attorney westfield (another town near Carmel)

Those are just a few of the variations.  You should hire an experienced SEO firm to help you come up with the many related keyword combinations.

The point is that the pie for search is very small if you're going after highly competitive keywords but abundant if you go after the virtually unlimited keyword variations available.  So, I guess you can adopt the Win-Win habit for search engine results after all.  Just be sure to monitor your search results based on those keyrods and always provide fresh, updated, and relevant content to maintain those positions.

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