TaylorLovett

Landing Pages: What Are They and When You Should Use Them?

August 16, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

There is a lot of talk today among bloggers and internet marketers about “landing pages” or “sales pages”. You might have heard people talking about how useful they are in generating new prospects for your business. I can tell you this is absolutely true but only if the landing pages are created and used correctly.

What is a landing page:
A landing page is simple a page that a visitor lands on after clicking a link. It could be your homepage. More often than not a landing page is the page that a user arrives at after clicking an advertisement.

When to use a landing page and why they are extremely important:
Suppose I have an advertisement link on webdevelopers.com. The link text reads “Free SEO Report”. Most amateurs would have this link point to their homepage. The smart move would be to create a special landing page on my site that is completely separated from the rest of the site. The landing page would be targeted specifically for the link “Free SEO Report”. That means the landing page would probably have a header that reads just that, Free SEO Report. Using a targeted landing page for your advertisements (especially for PPC ads) dramatically increases the amount of new prospects or conversions you will receive per ad click.

Google Alerts

June 8, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

I wanted to let you know about a new Google service I stumbled upon recently. It’s called Google Alerts.

As you know I run a small online web development business. I target search phrases like “Maryland web developer” and “Maryland wordpress”. I’ve spent time and money getting my website to the top of Google for those search phrases.

I also spend time searching those phrases on Google to see where my website(s) are located as well as to learn about my competition. When new websites pop up on “Maryland web developer” or “Maryland wordpress” searches, I want to be the first to know so I can examine those websites and evaluate the type of keyword strategies they are using (this is how the pros do it).

Anyway I was spending a lot of time unnecessarily searching those phrases for new competition until I learned about Google Alerts. Google Alerts is a new service that provides email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic.

Simply, tell Google the topic you wish to monitor, enter your email address and the type of results you wish to receive, and click create alert.

It’s that simple. From now on Google will alert you when new websites appear on searches on the topics of your choosing!

Meta Descriptions and Titles – What They Are, Why They’re Important, and How to Optimize Them

January 21, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

Meta descriptions and titles are probably the most important thing for SEO within the HTML of your site. These two tags allow you to have some control over how search engines like Google display your website.

What Are Meta Tags?

“Meta tags” refer to specific HTML tags that appear in the area of the page. Here is an example:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE> This is the Meta Title tag! </TITLE>
<META name=”description” content=”This is the meta description” />
</HEAD>

See how the title and description tags appear within the of the page? They will only work if placed in that area. From the standpoint of someone viewing your website, the meta description tag is completely invisible (unless they view source code), it is used exclusively by search engines. The title tag can actually be seen by your viewers in the browser bar at the very top of your screen. There is also the meta keywords tag, but this tag is ignored by most major search engines (Google included). Right now we are going to focus on the two most important meta tags for SEO, the meta description and title tags.

Google places great importance on meta description and title tags when your website is being indexed. The following is a screen shot from a Google search:

Taking advantage of these tags gives you a huge advantage over your competitors. Having worked with many small businesses as an SEO consultant, the vast majority of people do not make use of these tags. Clients pay me thousands of dollars to get their website on the first page of Google for specific keywords; sometimes all it takes is making good use of their meta tags! Which leads me to the next thing I want to tell you…

How to Optimize Meta Tags

You’re going to be surprised at how simple this really is. First I want to introduce the concept of relevancy. You want your website to be as relevant as possible to the keywords you are targeting for Google searches. Keywords in certain areas of your website are given more weight than others. The most prominent area on your website for keywords are your meta description and titles tags. So you want to make sure every single page on your site has these tags. Also every meta description and title tag should be unique otherwise Google might flag your website for duplicate content (this was discussed in an earlier email I sent you). That being said, here are the guidelines I follow when optimizing my clients’ meta tags:

  • Make sure every single page on the website has unique meta description and title tags.
  • Make sure every meta title tag is no longer than 60 characters in length and every meta description no longer than 160 characters in length.
  • Fill each meta description and title tag with as many relevant keywords as possible.
  • Make each meta description and title tag describe the page very closely. This means I don’t just stuff them full of keywords; I actually make sure they all make sense and are relevant to their page.

How to Optimize Meta Tags in WordPress Websites

If you are running WordPress, optimizing your meta tags is MUCH easier. There are tons of plugins that allow you to edit the meta description and title tag without having to know HTML. I use All-In-One SEO on all my clients’ websites.With All-In-One SEO, each post and page editor contains a box near the bottom that allows you to easily change the meta tags. This plugin even shows a live count of how many characters your meta description and title tags are currently at! WordPress is great for SEO and makes it very easy to insert keywords throughout your site. Just remember that each page, post, category, and archive actually have their own web pages so don’t forget to optimize all their meta tags.

Google Places is Critical to Search Engine Visibility

January 15, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

Hey Taylor L, I just wanted to let you know about something that someone of the SEO Pro’s have been chatting about lately.

Google Places is CRITICAL to search engine visibility. Google has begun to show an incredible number of Local-related results for nonspecific search phrases.

Google Places allows you to submit your business information (name, address, URL, basic service description). After submission, your website will show up under local Google Places results. Lets use the web development market as an example. Since TaylorLovett.com is listed in Google Places as a web development business in Maryland, it shows up higher under local searches for “web development” within Maryland. That means my website has an advantage with people searching for web development within Maryland as well as people searching the key phrase “web development Maryland”.

The secret that I am revealing is that even if your business does not have a specific location, you can still submit it to Google Places.The best way to move up in the Google rankings is to optimize your site for a specific location, and move outwards gradually. TaylorLovett.com first was optimized for a small town called “Rockville” (which is in Maryland), then moved to a bigger town called “Bethesda”, then took over Maryland. Now if you search “web developer Maryland”, you will seeTaylorLovett.com on the first page competing with multi-million dollar web development firms. Pretty neat, huh?

Also, I’m not sure if you heard about this or not, but Google just completely changed the way they display localized search results. What does this mean for you? While this may sound unimportant, it is actually a pretty big deal because it gives websites that use proper SEO techniques a huge leg up. Prior to this change, when you searched “web development Maryland”, local Maryland results were displayed (by Google Places) above the actual organic search results. Now those same Google places results are integrated in to the organic search results. The two algorithms have been merged. This change places even more importance on websites that are listed in Google Places. You have nothing to lose!

SEOMoz, a leading search engine optimization research site, put out an exclusive report which included some useful tips when creating your Google Places listing.

– In Places results, domain-wide link popularity factors seem more important than page-specific ones. We’ve heard that links aren’t as important in local/places and the data certainly suggest that’s accurate (see the full report to compare correlations), but they may not be completely useless, particularly on the domain level.

– Using the city and business type keyword in the page title and the listing name (when claiming/editing your business’s name in the results) may give a positive boost. Results using these keywords seem to frequently outrank their peers. Use the city/state you are targeting in your listing.

– More is almost always better when it comes to everything associated with your Places listing – more related maps, more reviews, more “about this place” results, etc. However, this metric doesn’t appear as powerful as we’d initially thought. It could be that the missing “consistency” metric is a big part of why the correlations here weren’t higher.

Duplicate Website Content – Why It’s Bad and How to Fix It

January 12, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

Hey {!name}, I thought I’d let in on a big problem that I look for on client websites when I’m doing SEO consulting.

From Google Webmaster Tools:
—–
Duplicate content generally refers to substantive blocks of content within or across domains that either completely match other content
or are appreciably similar
——

Here’s all the ways duplicate content can occur on your website:

* URL parameters such as click tracking and some analytics code can cause duplicate content issues.

* Printer friendly versions of content can cause duplicate content issues when multiple versions of the pages get indexed.

* Session IDs are a common duplicate content creator. This occurs when each user that visits a website is assigned a different session ID that is stored in the URL.

The biggest problem with duplicate content is that search engines don’t know which version to index. If you are using a WordPress website, then duplicate content probably applies to your website in a more subtle way, a way which most SEO “gurus” try to charge you money to learn about. Multiple pages with the same page title or meta description are considered duplicate content which hurts your website in a variety of ways.

The page title is contained in the HTML header and can be read by users in the URL bar at the very top of browsers. The meta description is also contained within the HTML header but cannot be read by humans and is used exclusively by search engines like Google. I’m going to send you another email about the importance of meta descriptions and titles and how to make good use of them.

— Ways to Detect Duplicate Content on Any Website

* Here is a useful duplicate content detector tool: http://www.virante.com/seo-tools/duplicate-content.php

— Ways to Fix Duplicate Content on WordPress Websites

* First make sure all your pages have unique page titles and meta descriptions.

* If you are using permalinks, each page can be linked to in at least two different ways i.e. yoursite.com/?p=20 or yoursite.com/mypage/. Make sure you pick one way to link to each page throughout your website. If you are using permalinks, you should be using yoursite.com/mypage/

* Finally, if you still have duplicate content, you will need to mark pages with canonical link tags. A canonical link tag tells the search engine where the primary version of that content resides. Here is a great WordPress plugin that does this for you automatically: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/canonical/

— Ways to Fix Duplicate Content on WordPress Websites

* The best way to do this is to manually add the following meta tag to the section of every page that is a duplicate:

That’s it! Everything you need to correct duplicate content on your website is in this email. Enjoy.

Google XML Sitemaps – Free SEO Points

January 10, 2011 by Taylor Lovett

An XML Sitemap is a list of pages on your website (not readily visible to humans) that is formatted in such a way that helps Google index pages on your site that it might not find otherwise. Your Sitemap can even specify how long before the content changes on each page so Google knows when to come back and reindex. This has HUGE value for SEO.

Do any of the following apply to your website? (This list is pulled directly from the Google help page on Sitemaps)

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren’t easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process—for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn’t well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

If so, you definitely need an XML Sitemap. Have you every seen video content when searching on Google? You can create an XML video Sitemap for Google that will allow your video content to be disabled on the Google search page. In my personal experience with SEO, Google, and small business websites, XML Sitemaps have been an invaluable tool. Most people don’t know what they are and often pay me to do SEO work. One of my SEO “secrets” is to install the XML Google Sitemaps Plugin on my clients websites. My clients usually see results within a few days from using that plugin! Crazy, huh?

Download and install the Google XML Sitemaps Plugin for WordPress