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Organic Search Marketing for Small business

Small business and SEO

I have dealt with a number of small and medium businesses over last few years and found massive interest surge on organic search marketing. There were a common believe “SEO” is a silver bullet solution for all your organic search related problems, you can hire a “guru” and he will use some “Mantra” so you will be ranking all over the web overnight. There are many “SEO” companies all over the world still promising you top ranking at a very lucrative price by spinning article or changing meta tags on your site.

Let’s focus on if organic search marketing worth it for small businesses. Hubspot has done some great research to reveal average cost per lead on different marketing channels (outbound and inbound)

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They have found inbound channels have 61% less cost per lead, and that’s huge. This can easily justify investing more on inbound channels. However to achieve desired results you need to have a well-structured inbound marketing campaign. I am not quite sure about other countries but the problem here in Australia is we do not have enough agencies offering great quality inbound marketing products for small business at a cost they can afford. I am not saying we don’t have great search marketing agencies here, but they are mainly targeting larger organisation (ideally paying over 50K a year). Companies with smaller budgets (5K – 30K a year) being approached by agencies doing more harm than good to their web presence. Let’s have a look at some of the product offering from some well-known (screenshots are taken from 1st page “seo companies” keyword search on Google from QLD location) SEO companies.

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Fig: Evidence of spammy activities on proposed SEO campaign

It’s hard to believe establish agencies are offering these garbage as product mainly targeting small to medium businesses. It is the time to understand making your site visible on the web to acquire qualified leads is not going to happen with employing these agencies, you might see some short term traffic increase on back of these spammy tactics but likely be penalised by all major search engines for trying to manipulate the ranking algorithms.

A good organic search campaign will be well structured to address every aspects of your campaign which include Research, On-page optimisation, Local Search Optimisation, Off-page Optimisation, Performance optimisation and proper reporting. You can read my previous article on organic campaign structure here. I understand this is not easy to deliver all these on small budget however if your agency use the right tools and have strategies well-structured this campaign can be delivered to any small business on around 10K yearly budget and will deliver great sustainable results for your business.

I have been working long time now for enterprise clients and now I am using my experiences to build a number of process and tools to improve efficiency of small business organic search marketing to deliver similar organic search products only big enterprises been enjoying thus for. I have successfully deployed a number of process include Keyword Research and Mapping, Onsite and Link Audit, Reporting, where I was able to accelerated task completion time by 600% without compromising on quality. I am working on complete inbound marketing solution using my knowledge of organic marketing, leading data sources and tools and custom made tools exclusively tailored to deliver on my goals.

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Six Elements of Organic Search Marketing Campaign

Organic Search Marketing Campaign.

Organic search engine optimisation AKA SEO has always been very lucrative for businesses all over the world to acquire qualified free traffic. A number of study proved that cost per leads from organic search marketing is lower compare to any other marketing channel. Now from the organisations point of view it’s a no brainer not to invest in organic search marketing, however as we all know the organic channel has changed over last few years. As an organisation you need to know what to look for from your in-house or marketing agency in a successful organic search campaign.

A good search optimisation campaign need to have six main elements on it.

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Phase 1: Research

Research should be first and the most important elements of an organic search campaign. Without having a comprehensive research process the campaign cannot and will not deliver on campaign objectives.

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Phase 2: On-page optimisation

With around 35%-40%  (and I believed this has increased over last couple of years )of Google’s ranking algorithms relay on on page factors, as a business you have to ensure your search campaign has dedicated resources to address this issue.

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Phase 3: Local SEO

Organic search optimisation has always been popular among small and medium business with local intent for a number of reasons.

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Phase 4: Off-page optimisation

Off-page factors of Google search algorithms have always been playing a trivial part to determine ranking potential of a site. Even though links are losing its value within search algorithms but not going away anytime soon. To keep up with these changes off-page optimisation has evolved and develops some great products to increase your presence on the web. Most prominent changes being Content Marketing and Social media marketing. With the introduction of negative value from links by major search engines force you to manage your link profile to ensure integrity.

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Phase 5: Performance

Google introduced site speed as major ranking factor back in 2010 and this should be focus for every website to improved site speed and performance. However site speed for better ranking is only one of many values it can offer, Neil Patel showed how site speed affects your conversion and revenue. And with the rise of mobiles site performance just got even more important.

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Phase 6: Reporting

Reporting is very important for any organic search campaigns for two main reasons, track progress and discover opportunities. You need to track a number of metrics (i.e. organic traffic, impressions, and rankings) to determine your campaign success. All the metrics you choose to track should align to your macro and micro goals. Great reporting framework not only provide you with data to track the success but also should provide you with recommendation to leverage opportunities based on your campaign goals.

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Technical Search Engine Optimisation

Technical SEO: 3 Quick Wins

Technical SEO is hot right now! There is lot going on in SEO world, where everyone is going insane to find the entire “Google secrets” to trick big G to send bucket load of traffic to their sites. Hope one thing is clear to all of us that there is no quick wins in search engine optimisation (or should I say Search Experience Optimisation?) But behold I guess there are some quick wins and which comes by making Google happy, not tricking him into giving you ranking you don’t deserve. Yes boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about technical SEO wins.

Crawl and Fix:

Crawl your site using tools like Screaming Frog or Xenu’s Link Sleuth to find pages on your site returning server redirects/errors (3xx Redirection, 4xx Client Error, 5xx Server Error) and fix the redirects/errors. If redirects are necessary make sure its 301 (permanent redirects) not 302 (temporary redirects)

Seek and Destroy Duplicate Contents:

Duplicate contents have always been a problem for any sites to ranking to its potential. There are many ways a site can generate duplicate contents. See below for most common instances of duplicate content.

  • Problem: Domain with both www. And non-www version available
  • Solution: Select default version of site and use permanent redirect (301) to redirect secondary version to the default version.
  • Problem: Urls with or without trailing slash (/)
  • Solution: Select default version of site and use permanent redirect (301) to redirect secondary version to the default version.
  • Problem: Indexed Url with http and https version
  • Solution: Do not use https site-wide, only use https where you need to encrypt user information.
  • Problem: Urls with both uppercase and lower case
  • Solution: force lowercase urls site-wide
  • Problem: Category pages creating duplicate content
  • Solution: Use no-index tags to force search engines not to index category pages
  • Problem: Use of same content within or across site for obvious reason.
  • Solution: Use rel:canonical tags to identify default version.
  • Problem: your content is being copied.
  • Solution: Use tools like copyscape to find duplicate content and outreach to take it down. You also can submit take down request to Google.
  • Problem: Many web development process include creating a staging server and get the site developed on it, however I have seen many instances where staging server is live and indexed even after the main site pushed live and creating duplicate contents.
  • Solution: Password protects your staging server and advise search engines not to crawl staging pages by using robots.txt.
  • Problem: Many sites have multiple version of their home page (/index, /default, /home etc.)
  • Solution: Have only one version available for crawlers and users (ideally root domain) and redirect 301 all other versions to primary page.

Need for Speed:

Your site performance and speed is vital for your search ranking and your visitors. Google has included site speed as ranking factor long ago and also slow site affect your conversion in a negative way.

Use tools like Webpage Test and Google Page Speed insights to determine your site speed and follow recommendations made by these tools to make your site faster. Regularly monitor your page speed using Google analytics data. Ideally every page on your site should load in less than 4 seconds.

 

 

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Web data scraping Guide for SEO

What is Web data scraping?

We frequently hear these words “data scraping” “data mining” etc. Yes it’s true that there is wealth of information out there and every marketer can reap some benefit out of this as well, but the question is how? I have been using a number of tools for a while now to scrape data for SEO. I am using data for On-site Audit, Link Analysis, Blog prospects and outreach. Data scraping for SEO does sounds complicated but trust me it’s not. You need to make sure you have the right tools for the job and you are going after right data.

How to use scraped data for SEO?

On-site Audit

You can use a number of crawlers to crawl the site you are auditing and can scrape very useful data on on-page elements to determine if the site is optimised well or not. You can use tools like Screaming Frog (Paid with functional free version available) or Xenu (free). I would recommend Screaming Frog as you can call it “Ferrari” of crawling. There is a great article on seer interactive blog on how to use screaming frog to its maximum potential.

Link Analysis

With bad link penalty from Google is a reality link analysis or link audit is becoming more and more vital day by day. Given pre 2010 SEO tactics utilised by many business owners and agencies it is quite obvious they now have a number of links within their backlink profile they wish to disappear. Mighty Google (and Bing as well) took pity on us and allow us to inform search engines of these bad link via Disavow tool (Google and Bing). However I believe this disavow is not a good solution until you know which links are good and which are bad.

Now scraping data can be the solution to determine external link quality. You might say there are backlinks data available out there via third party tools such as Opensite Explorer, Ahrefs, Majesticseo etc., but no such data is complete and reporting on complete backlink profile. As Google is our primary target engine I would prefer to use their data and it is certain if someone receive link penalty, the offender link(s) will be listed on backlink profile from Google webmaster tools. Now you will face the problem Google does have backlink data for you but not with any additional metrics so it’s hard to tell which are the bad ones! Yes you can go and check one by one on your browser but if you have a link profile with thousands of links, I wish you all the best with that!

Now data scraping at rescue. You can gather link value metrics using a number of scraping tools depending on what metrics you consider to evaluate links. I personally use External linking domains PageRank, Server Status (404, 500 etc.), Page Title (i.e. look for title with foreign language in it, if you have an English language site), External links from linking page (i.e. over 100 external links), match with blacklist (match linking domain from known spam site, low quality directory etc.). I understand you might want to use different metrics; however these metrics I have mentioned above can be scraped using tools below:

PageRank – SEO Tools for Excel (Free), or if you need to scrape thousands of domains buy ScrapeBox

Server Status, Page Title and number of external links – Screaming Frog using list mode (see under configuration)

Blacklist: I have a list of couple of million blacklisted domains you can Download for Free.

Also find example (analysis done by me) of link analysis for bad links using following method here (this have couple of extra metrics such as TrustFlow and CitationFlow). I will publish a blog post with detailed process to create this analysis here soon.

Blog prospects and find outreach data

It is becoming more and more difficult to run a link building campaign with in a set budget mainly due to the amount of human hours needed to prospect and finds outreach information (email, social media etc.). Most of the agencies charge from $150 – $300 per hour for conducting SEO work. It is quite hard to justify investing 20-30 hours to conduct link prospect and collecting outreach emails. There are services out there to help you with blog outreach however it seemed they are too protective about their data (no raw export etc.) and again quite costly for the service they are providing.  On the other hand you cannot go and manually compile a massive list of blogs and potential sites so you can outreach.

You can use crawler such as screaming frog to crawl sites with lots of qualified blog listed (verified by actual human and categorised based on contents) using complete site crawl and export external links. You also can crawl a specific category to export sites under that category only. Once you have the list of  high quality blogs then you can use ScrapeBox to generate data to evaluate blog popularity such as PageRank, Alexa Rank, number of page indexed etc. So you will have a great list of blogs from the niche you are working on with blog value metrics so you know who to outreach first. You also can use browser based scraper such as multi-links for Firefox or Scraper for Chrome to scrape already created list by known publisher or from search results. Again I would love to write a detailed blog about the process I have mentioned above.

Once you have a nice list of blogs and sites to outreach next thing you need would be contact details for identified opportunities. If you are after email only you can purchase web email extractor from newprosoft, this works really well for large list. If you need social profiles as well you can buy Buzzstream for link building and you will get a scraper capable of gathering all social profiles along with email scraper (however this email scraper search certain urls only and returns far less contacts compared to web mail extractor). Also you can create a custom scraper on 80legs to scrape social profiles from urls.

Happy scraping. Let me know via comment if you guys love scraping too and what tools you use  to get your job done. Also let me know if want to see more post on data scraping like this.

Bonus: list of around 5000 Australian Blogs!

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I have seen a lot of buzz and boom going around Internet Marketing and SEO is one of the primary aspect of Internet Marketing. So more and more people are choosing SEO as a potential career. I will be compiling a list of SEO Blogs deemed most beneficial to me as SEO Beginner. When I was building my self as an online marketer after finishing my Bachelor Degree of Information System I took a lot of help from quite a few sites. And over last couple of years I found few more site being very instrumental in my SEO/Internet marketing learnings. This is quite a tough task to be honest to pick top ten blogs for SEO Beginner as I still read about 50 blogs almost every day.

SEOmoz SEO Blog:

You can’t go past ‘em! SEOmoz and YouMoz blogs are must read for every SEO professional. There is a wealth of information for SEOer from every level. On page, off page, technical, link building, SEO tool, SEO News you name it and they have it! SEOmoz is the best of it’s kind. So SEOmoz is my number one choice because when you learn, you better learn it well and you you get a chance you learn from the best. You will find all the top bloke’s here at SEOmoz.

Search Engine Land

Search Engine Land is a must read hub for news and information about search engine marketing, optimization and how search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft Live.com and Ask.com work for searchers. Packed with latest information from search world and also have a great collection of articles on search industry.

 Google Webmaster Central Blog

This site offer official news on crawling and indexing sites for Google Index. The also publish a number of great resources to help you understanding your SEO work process better. These information add great value to your SEO value. The dynamic nature of SEO industry makes it a must to get the updates from the original source and implement it as soon as possible.

Ross Hudgens Link Building

I would not say he is the most frequent poster in SEO industry, however he is that kind of SEO blogger, even if you waited over a month for a post from him and he will make every minute of wait worth it! He is a great link building strategist with super knowledge and very solid unique techniques. May be not the best blog for beginners however I can’t effort not to have him on a list where I am talking about SEO. And yes don’t forget to follow him on twitter because that’s where he is more awesome @rosshudgens

John Doherty

John’s blog is always full of surprises. He will make your link building effort way easier by giving you all the free tools. He made tools more awesome. There is a number of times I found a tool online and thought “oh it will be better if this tool also do these stuff for me as well” a week or two check on John’s site and viola! he done it again (he customised the tool so it’s now doing all the stuff I want ém to do). Again not the best site when you started learning SEO however you can’t bypass this site, NO WAY! John is awesome on Twitter, follow him for your own sake, dohertyjf

Weip.net 

Wiep Knol is the artist of link building. He is a smart creative link builder. He is the best reviewer of link building I know of, he offer comprehensive range of reading list for his reader. His style is unique, he took fresh approach to link building and SEO every day. He is great SEOer to follow on twitter

SEO Gadget Blog

Richard Baxter and his team running this fantastic blog, there is a lot to learn specially this blog will make your SEO life lot easier by providing so many great SEO tools. If you are a excel fan this is your place. Follow SEO gadget on twitter

SEER Interactive Blog

SEER is the place of many brilliant minds. The bloke’s at SEER Interactive always on the hunt to bring you the best from SEO world. They make the art of link building enjoyable by introducing all new methods every single week. This is a great learning platform for both SEO and SEM. I would encourage you to follow SEER Interactive on twitter

Search Engine People

This site is continuously producing great blog post on SEO and other aspects of Internet marketing. Follow them on twitter and stay updated on what’s happening on SEO world.

Kaiserthesage

You got to love those long post from Jason. He is giving his all to make you a better SEOer. He is innovative, he is honest and he will teach you SEO and Internet Marketing and yes he will teach you well for free. This young gentleman caught my eyes more than an year ago with his highly technical but simplistic approach to SEO and Internet Marketing. Don’t forget to follow him on twitter: @jasonacidre he is awesome on Google+too

Pointblankseo

Jon Cooper took the SEO world by storm. This man was little known even a year ago and now one of the most influential blogger in link building and SEO. He is young and energetic, he has revealed all possible opportunities of link building and he is sharing all he got on his blog. He can help you to reduce your research work by half because he is there reading every bit of information an sharing it. Follow his twitter is  a must for for every SEOer: @pointblankseo

It was not really easy to make a list with so many great people blogging SEO. Do you have any blog you want to recommend here? Please put it in the comment section.

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