Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Simple Web Design Tips to Integrate Schema Markup & Improve SEO

Because on-site SEO only accounts for about 30% of the SEO equation in getting site ranked in Google, we as SEO's do all that we can to ensure our money sites are as optimized as possible. An emerging means to further optimize a site's content to its fullest potential to is use Schema.

A Quick Briefing on Schema

In short, Schema is basic yet specific HTML markup that you add to pages' content.

There are many types of Schemas, but their underlying purpose is the same: to better define and communicate a site's content to Google.

For instance, when Google crawls a block of text that contains an address, we assume that Google knows and interprets the content as an address. However with Schema markup, we can clearly indicate to Google each component of the address (name, business address line, phone number.) This takes all assumptions out of the mix and tells Google specifically what the content is.

Why Schema Works for SEO

The latter address example is important for local SEO as a business's name, address, and phone is its citation - a key element that shapes a company's ranking in the Google local listings. Integrating schema markup to define this information can offer a boost for local SEO. In a competitive local search landscape, such as SEO for plastic surgeons, this technique is a game-changer.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. SEO's can integrate schema in many ways to better define content and communicate their site to Google. For instance, schema markup for videos and images can be clutch to help get this media ranking in Google's universal search results, image search results, and/or YouTube. The possibilities are quite plentiful.

Where Does Web Design Fit In?

Although there are many approaches to web design, in this case we're talking about structure - or the layout of content. Some of the most well-optimized sites are designed to show the citation and address information of a business in the header as well as the footer. So for local SEO, it's only appropriate that LocalBusiness Schema markup is included in this content.

That's web design tip number one: design the layout of the homepage and inside pages to include the citation in both the header and the footer, and ensure the text is parseable (or can be highlighted, copied/pasted, and crawled and indexed.) That way, you can easily introduce Schema and check-off one of the most essential forms of on-site optimization for local SEO.

Self-hosted Videos for Richer Snippets & Better SEO

Another way you can design and develop your site for better SEO is self-hosting videos. That is, instead of using YouTube or Vimeo embeds, you can self-host videos on your site. From earning and building links to generating rich snippets, the decision to self-host videos can help immensely in keeping the SEO value entirely on-site.

To learn more about this, here's a detailed read all about hosting videos for SEO. Once you have the technical stuff figured out, the second step is to ensure proper Schema markup for videos. This will help increase the SEO value of videos, all while maximizing the potential to generate video rich snippets in Google's blended search results.

There are numerous ways in which you can integrate Schema for better SEO. Whether for local SEO, ecommerce SEO, or enterprise-level SEO, Schema offers possibilities for all types of websites.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Meet SEO Intern Tiffany Gregory

My name is Tiffany, and I am the newest addition to the online marketing team at Captivate Search Marketing in Atlanta GA.

I currently attend Kennesaw State University with a major in communication, a concentration in public relations, and an interest in marketing.

As an SEO intern at Captivate Search Marketing, I hope to gain more knowledge and hands-on experience with SEO practices.

In my free time, I enjoy reading, writing, and cooking!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

14 Things You Can A/B Split Test to Drive More Conversions

A/B Split Testing Conversion Optimization
If you’re a web marketing professional, you know that keeping on top of the latest digital trends can result in boosts to your SEO and ROI.

However, with so many different strategies available, how can you discover what will work best for your site?

Smart web marketers know that A/B split testing is one of the most essential elements to optimizing your website, and regular tune-ups can make the difference between your site being a mere landing page and being a money making machine.

Ultimately, A/B testing oftentimes brings more questions to light than it answers, so knowing where to start your testing and what’s crucial to your web plan is essential.

Split Test Calls To Action

Your website is there to engage users, so uncovering what makes them click that “Buy Now!” button is crucial. Try testing the following to uncover your best strategy:
  1. Wording - Test out different CTA’s, such as switching “Buy now” to “Purchase,” or “Click here” to “Follow Me.”
  2. Location - Where are your CTA’s located? Do they perform better at the bottom of your text, or as a great big shiny top button?
  3. The Many versus The Few - Perhaps your users need a little more motivation to get them where you want them to be. Try using multiple buttons on your page to maximize chances for clicks.
  4. Colors & Shapes - Depending on the demographic you’re aiming for, certain colors and shapes can appeal to various sexes and age groups.
A/B Split Testing Button Styles

 A/B Test Your Visuals

Depending on your market, your users may respond more positively to one image over another. Some quick testing ideas include:
  1. People or Products - Depending on who you’re targeting, some customers may prefer to look at an image of a person on your landing page rather than a product, or vice-versa.
  2. Static versus Movement - Stuck with a simple photo? Some sites see a benefit from swapping out images with a video, or even 3D images.
  3. Demographic Tests - While you’re thinking about including photos with people, try using various demographics such as men or women, age groups and even dress sense.

A/B Split Test Web Forms

A/B Split Testing Forms
Like most websites, you likely have a form lurking somewhere on yours. But is it functioning as well as it should?
  1. How Long? - Ask various people to see how long it takes them to complete your form. Trying a shorter form or requesting more information can result in less form abandonment.
  2. Sign Up Incentives - It’s a fact: people love free stuff. Try putting an incentive on to your sign-up forms to see if it can generate a boost.
  3. Think Outside the Basic Box - Everyone has filled out the same boring form over and over again. What’s wrong with getting creative? Ask for their favorite color or if they prefer David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar as Van Halen’s frontman. The unexpected can often yield interesting results.

Test Your Site Navigation

One of the things that web marketers strive to do is move users easily through their site, particularly straight to the buying page. Depending on your setup, failing to test how your users are funneling and navigating through your site can result in frustrated customers and lost revenue.
  1. How Do You Get There - Recognizing where you want your users to go and how they can achieve that is crucial. Try various options for navigation to help lead people where you want them to go.
  2. Busy, Busy, Busy - Too many distractions on your homepage can lead to users feeling confused and not arriving where you want them to be. Try stripping back links and content to see how it performs against more robust pages.
  3. What’s The Attraction - What are your users clicking on the most? Try increasing a different page’s standing by swapping your buttons or navigational tools around.
  4. Offer Multiple Avenues - While stripping back on distractions is a good test, also try offering more than one avenue to arrive at pages within your site.
While these suggestions are a great jumping off point, they are by no means a full list. Test your site consistently to see what’s working and what’s not. By testing, you’ll get to know your user’s likes and dislikes even better than they do.

Monday, February 17, 2014

3 Ways Stock Photos Can Hurt Your Brand

Countless brands utilize stock images in their online marketing, particularly when it comes to social media. Because of the undeniable importance of social media platforms for effective online marketing, and with recent studies showing that adding a photo or a link to your update for your brand will help you get more exposure, people are still using stock photos to do it.

But what some brands need to realize is that stock photos can really damage the way your target audience looks and engages with your brand, thus causing your social media engagement to wane.

  1. Not Realistic – By and large, stock photography is usually easy to spot. Your social followers want to see real people like your coworkers or development team in an authentic setting. They want to see your brand as real people producing real solutions, and not some fictitious stock photo character who only raises more questions about what your brand really stands for instead of showing a level of personalization and transparency that consumers want to see. So instead of buying a stock photo of people sitting in a round table, next time your brand is having a round table, whether it is Google hangout or in your office, snap a photo and use that instead. Real people working hard to give you real results!
  2. Same Photo, Different Brand – Because stock photos are so widely used, it's not uncommon for users to come across the same photo of the same person or figure on two completely unrelated websites. When brands use the same stock images for their social media marketing platforms, it doesn’t differentiate you from other brands who use those stock images. If anything, it makes your brand image look disingenuous. Taking the photos yourself can sometimes be a hassle but it shows your target audience that you are putting forth the effort to be genuine and unique!
  3. Copyright Issues – Another negative way stock photos can damage your brand identity is through legal/copyright issues. Yes, you paid for the images that you use, but are they royalty free or are they rights managed? If they are royalty free, then you get unlimited use of those photos, anywhere and anytime and you or your brand can not be sued for usage, but if they are rights-managed then you have restricted ways you can use those images. Making sure that you are using those images in the right context is key to not having legal action taken against your brand. Also, stealing photos from Google to your social media platforms is just as bad. If you didn’t pay for the photo, don’t use it.
Alyssa Chester is an Inbound Marketing Strategist at Captivate Search Marketing's Atlanta office. Please feel free to reach out and connect with Alyssa on Google+ or on Twitter.

Friday, January 24, 2014

4 Ways to Get Pinterest Working for Your Brand

Pinterest is a social website that is mostly used for photo-sharing. It allows its users to “pin” and manage collections for events, interests, and hobbies.

Pinterest users can browse other pinboards for images to repin to their pinboards and/or like photos. So how can brands use this social site to increase the traffic and sales to their website?

  1. Timing is key - In order for your brand to get more social traffic to your website, you should be focused on getting lots of “repins” and “likes.” For this to happen, you need to make sure that you are timing your pins just right. Pins that are posted between 2PM and 4PM and 8PM and 1AM, get the most repins. Not only should you aim to pin at a certain time, you should also aim to pin on certain days. Pins that are posted to the site on Saturdays have a tendency to get the most “repins” and “likes” as opposed to other days.
  2. Categories - Pinterest allows you to add boards in many different categories which can be a great tool for your brand. By adding categories to the pins that you post on Pinterest, you are not only increasing pin exposure to your brand, but you are also allowing the opportunity for several “repins” in many different categories.
  3. Be unique - Pinning content that is unique to your brand like blogs, contests, and photos will help your brand stand out from the others. It will make others want to repin your content more and they will actually look forward to seeing your content on their pinboard.
  4. Relevancy - While you are posting pins on Pinterest, make sure that you are posting relevant and engaging content from your brand. Make sure that whatever you post will catch your audience’s eye. Make sure that you are pinning original content more than you are repinning content. Images that are pinned directly from the website get more repins than other posts.

So by posting relevant, timely, unique, content to various categories on Pinterest, you can become a Pinterest expert and increase the traffic to your website. Happy Pinning!

Alyssa Chester is an Inbound Marketing Specialist here at Captivate Search Marketing. Please feel free to connect with Alyssa on Twitter or Google+.