If you’re working to increase your brand exposure, build your credibility as an industry expert, or improve your back links and SEO ranking, consider writing guest blog entries on other sites. Guest blogging is a great way to make a major impact on your content marketing and SEO strategy by driving qualified traffic to your own blog and website. Many social media experts say guest blogging is one of the most important ways to build authority for your own brand online.
So how do you find opportunities to guest blog? Let’s look at some ways you can uncover guest blogging opportunities and a few online outreach tools to help focus your search.
Before you begin your search, take a few minutes to determine your goals. By understanding the “why, “ you can more effectively target the “where.”
• Are you looking to position yourself as an expert in your industry?
• Is your goal to drive traffic to your blog or website, or increase your SEO ranking?
• Are you working to build backlinks to your website?
Answering these questions clearly, can help you to target your search for appropriate guest blogging opportunities.
The next step is one you’ve probably already done when defining your own content strategy, developing personas. By defining your audience, you can better target your opportunities. Be as specific as possible when building your personas. Having a well-defined target audience will not only help you to determine which opportunities to pursue, it can also help you to define your message.
You’ve defined your goals, and your target market. Now it’s time to begin to search for opportunities to reach them. Begin by looking for sites that are relevant to your industry that your target audience might frequent. As you search for, find and visit sites, check for a socially engaged readership. Have the posts been shared socially? Have they been commented on? Make sure the blog owner is active on social media sites. This makes it more likely they will share your guest posts with their community.
Another avenue to target when searching for guest blogging opportunities are the influential people in your particular industry. Using Google, search for them by name and determine if they have a blog that might be a good fit.
While these are great ways to begin your search, you can expand your efforts by using many of the free sites and tools available online.
Expanding Your Search: Using Outreach Tools
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Google is a great place to begin your search. Try using some key word searches to find blogs that may accept guest writers. First, type in your industry, for example, “social media marketing.” Then follow this:
• submit a guest post
• guest post by
• accepts guest posts
• guest post guidelines, etc.
These queries will lead you to a blog’s guest post guidelines, submission pages, and guest posts by numerous other writers.
Using the same criteria, try searching Twitter. Often writers will tweet about guest posts that they have submitted to other blogs and you can then follow the chain to the host blog and inquire,
Here are some other online sites and tools you can use to uncover guest blogging opportunities:
• Buzzstream - www.buzzstream.com - Buzzstream is a web-based software solution to organize your blogging and create an online buzz, all while building links and improving SEO to help get you found. It also helps you to build relationships with the influencers in your industry.
• BlogDash – http://www.blogdash.com - Blogdash helps you to organize and publish content then search and find specific bloggers using keyword search. You can then engage with these influencers and build beneficial relationships.
• Technorati - http://technorati.com/ - Technorati is a directory of blogs searchable by writer or keyword. I helps you to identify potential guest blogging opportunities. By becoming a member (it’s free), you can create a profile and interact with influencers from across all industries, building contacts for you to expore.
• Open Site Explorer - http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/ - Once you’ve established a potential opportunity, just type the domain name into the box on this site. It will search the web and return information on that site’s domain authority and link profile.
• Buzz Sumo - http://buzzsumo.com - Buzzsumo is a tool that lets you track trending topics across all social platforms, identify the most shared links and the influencers for an topic. Using buzz sumo allows you to tailor your content and SEO outreach towards hi-visibility topics and the influencers who write about them.
Guest blogging is a great way to grow your community, establish authority, generate backlinks and improve your SEO ranking. Try some of the tools and tips above. With a little targeted research, you’ll uncover hundreds of opportunities to spread your me
Search engine optimization (SEO) can be addictive—watching as your website climbs steadily in the search engine rankings and attracts more and more visitors.
But you’re not trying to win a popularity contest. Alone, SEO can’t grow your business because visitors do nothing for you unless they turn into customers. And if you’re selling a complex, business-to-business product, you need leads that you can nurture until they transform into customers.
So once you have the web visitors, it’s all about capturing leads with gated content. “Gated” means web visitors who want to read your e-books, white papers, and more fill in a form with their contact information as payment for downloading it.
Not so fast.
You want to build awareness, so you want web visitors to read your content. But you’ve locked it away. And guess what? According to David Meerman Scott, author of “Real Time Marketing and PR,” un-gated content is downloaded 20-50 times more often than gated content. So you’ve set up a barrier to increasing awareness.
What to do? Create a mix of gated and un-gated content. Perhaps if you have content designed to build initial awareness, break down the gate. And if it’s a webinar for prospects deeper into the buying cycle, ask for some contact information.
The answer to this problem, however, isn’t etched in stone. So test, test, test, and do whatever works best.
Latest Developments in SEO: Uproar over Guest Blogging
Over the last week, with Matt Cutt’s public announcement about guest blogging, what became apparent is that many people in the blogging community have let their desire to get backlinks to their website skew their view of what quality, white hat SEO can actually do for their site. When one concentrates on one particular aspect of SEO, such as link building or back linking, there’s always the risk that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
There are more than several factors that contribute to the success of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs). Being focused on one single aspect of optimizing your website can become detrimental to your website’s performance in SERPs, if you begin attempting to take short cuts. Because of this, Google has taken action against scaled guest blogging.
Guest Posting Phenomenon Gone Wrong
When done properly guest posting is a great idea. You create a high-quality, highly valuable article that is hosted on someone else’s website, which allows you to backlink to your site. Normally this is a part of a very sound white hat SEO strategy. This still seems to be okay with Google.
This is the problem that the following has been happening:
A website owner builds a website and generates quality content. They then begin implementing a normal SEO strategy of building backlinks by guest posting on other reputable, related websites. Creating quality content for other websites begins to become very exhausting and the owner gets carried away by the false notion that they can ‘automate’ the process to get more backlinks. The owner then thinks that the only thing that matters for website recognition in SERPs is the number of backlinks to his website.
Ultimately, they begin putting out low-quality content to scale. They post these articles on as many websites as possible to gain the most backlinks possible. This is when a quality, white hat SEO method has officially become completely black hat and, actually, harmful to the website.
Rand Fishkin over at Moz.com goes into more detail about why this back linking strategy goes awry and what Matt Cutts has to say about it. The gist of it is that sometimes people lose sight of all existing SEO rules and focus on just one rule and apply it, full speed ahead. This eventually causes that SEO strategy to become devalued and is now why guest blogging at scale is now a red flag for your website.
What You Should Do
Instead of fearing the guest blog post from now on, remember what it is that Google is always striving to achieve: a good user experience that makes quality content available to the user.
Clearly, a spammy strategy of creating as many backlinks as possible as quickly and easily as possible does not truly support a good internet user experience. All of that duplicated or less than valuable content on the internet retracts from the user’s experience.
So, focus on creating unique, quality content that provides value to your readers. The road always seems to end here with any new algorithm implementation made by Google. Guest post, if you like, but make sure it is because your information has a purpose.
Google is mainly focusing on guest blogging that is done at scale with poor quality content. If you avoid this at all costs and continue to strive to provide value, your site should be fine.
Not Provided? Why Not? What You Can Do to Get Keyword Data for SEO
Nearly two years ago, Google made the decision to the block organic keyword search data of logged in Google account searchers, leaving a significant proportion of the keywords driving site visits to be identified in Google Analytics as “not provided.” Despite causing minor inconvenience since that time, most marketers found they still had enough remaining data to analyze keywords, conversions, ROI and other important metrics.
Google has since extended the encryption of keyword data to all organic searches, and as of late September 2013 now lists all Google search keywords as “not provided,” leaving only the small percentage of organic search keyword data remaining from other engines such as Bing and Yahoo!. Google did this by making all searches secure—redirecting all traffic to the secure https site.
Why Did Google Do This?
Google has stated that the change was made to encrypt 100% of organic searches for privacy reasons. This doesn’t exactly make sense because all of the paid data remains available. The searchers’ privacy is apparently not as important if Google makes money by providing the same data to the people paying for ads. Many speculate that Google has done this solely to increase revenue.
Regardless of the reasoning behind the change, the question concerning most online marketers is this: How can I obtain organic keyword data for analysis, reporting and optimization? Luckily, you still have some options. Here are a few:
- Check out the non-Google organic keywords driving traffic that are still available in Google Analytics. The other search engines don’t send even close to the same volume as you would get from Google, but you can still get an idea of what keywords searchers are using.
- Glean the data available in Google Webmaster Tools. Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) still provides organic keyword data. In fact, it shows impressions vs. click data. This is great information, as you can use it to see how often your site showed up in search results, as well as how many times listings generated clicks (or not). GWT data is limited to the previous 90 days, so it’s important to download the data every month.
- Set up filters in Google analytics to segment the “not provided” data. You can set the filter to show the landing pages for each of the “not provided” visitors. This isn’t a perfect solution, but it may give you a general idea of what users were searching for when they reached your site. Not sure how to implement the segmentation? Learn from the best: Analytics guru Avinash Kaushik wrote a post detailing a 5-step approach to get data. Additionally, Kissmetrics wrote a post on unlocking your keywords in Google Analytics.
- Track internal searches on your site. Hopefully, you have a search function on your site. If you do, you can enable internal site search in Google Analytics. Here’s a post from Crazy Egg that details exactly how to set it up within your profile settings.
While the recent changes have left us with a situation that is less than ideal, it will force marketers to think creatively about new ways to obtain and leverage organic search data to improve sites’ performance—and that’s never a bad idea.
Beth Donkus is an SEO specialist; helping NuSpark Marketing clients grow traffic organically.
When we at NuSpark Marketing put together strategic B2B pay-per-click Adwords or Bing Ads campaigns, we carefully implement a negative keyword strategy as well. A negative keyword is a term that is used within a query that includes one of the keywords you are bidding on, but prevents your ad from showing because that “negative” keyword is not relevant to your product or service.
For example, if you sell CRM software to enterprise firms only, and your keyword term you are bidding on in Adwords is CRM Software, then a negative keyword could be SMB (small or medium sized business). Thus, if a buyer searches for CRM software for SMB, your ad will not show for this query.
The benefits of adding the proper negative keywords to your paid search accounts are obvious:
- Your ads will show to prospects most likely to click on them
- Because of the potential of increased click through rate, your keyword quality scores will increase, and that means better ad positioning at less cost, and that means better campaign ROI
- You can avoid paying for audiences who click on your ads but not really in the market for your services or products
Determining negative keywords
The first thing I do is review the Adwords Search Term reports. The search term report gives me a list of actual search queries that caused audiences to click. For any terms that showed significant clicks but not relevant to your product, those terms can be easily assigned as negatives.
Second, enter some queries of the keywords you are bidding on in Google, and see if Google’s suggest feature identifies negatives as below.
Additionally, for any of the major keywords you are bidding on, you can also use a keyword suggest tool like Ubersuggest to view not just potential negative keywords, but also longer-tail keywords you could add to your Ad groups.
Thirdly, meet with product managers or similar colleagues, and have a brainstorm meeting. Review the needs of your products or services and solutions they solve. Make a list of the targets and attributes of your product, then start developing a list of terms that do not apply.
Examples of one of these brainstorming sessions:
- Target geography: United States
Negative keyword examples: Canada, Mexico, North America
- Target business size: Enterprise
Negative keywords: SMB, small, start-up
- Target operating system: Windows, Android, PC
Negative keywords: Apple, ios, iPhone, iPad. MAC
- Target Industries: information technology, software, professional services, accounting, financial
Negative keywords: healthcare, insurance, retail
Fourth, as we further understand your products and services; who they are for, and who they are not for, we implement additional keyword lists that apply to your campaigns as negatives. Since this post is on B2B, we’ll focus on B2B negative keyword research. Let’s continue to assume we’re planning for CRM Software for enterprise.
You’re not targeting job seekers:
Negative keyword examples: jobs, careers, employment, developers, programmers, internships
You’re not targeting deal seekers:
Negative keyword examples; cheap, discount, free, bargain, prices, quotes, retail
You’re not educating (unless you have specific white papers or content downloads, targeting top of funnel educational queries):
Negative keyword examples: information, tips, techniques, strategies, tactics, approaches, white papers, pdfs, guides, reviews
You sell within your own country, with employees from your own country:
Negative keyword examples: off-shore, overseas, international, export, import
You provide the product or service, but you do not provide training:
Negative keyword examples: colleges, schools, training, lessons, courses, classes, education, resources, consultants
You’re not targeting audiences looking for key competitors, unless that was a targeted strategy:
Negative keyword examples: Salesforce, Netsuite, Oracle, SAP, Dynamics, Sugarcrm
Our goal is always to generate quality traffic and leads to websites as efficiently as possible. The optimal negative keyword strategy is mission critical in order to not spend budget on irrelevant queries, and build positive ROI. If you have any categories of negative keywords you’d like to share, I’d love to hear about them.
What is a search engine optimization tactician
I have a new SEO book being published next month, and as a preview, I just wanted to shed some light on what an SEO professional does, because there seems to be some confusion on what we do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis. We need many skill-sets, because today’s SEO is much different than what it was last year, and the year before that. We do have one thing in common with old school SEO; we take pride in our efforts to grow website traffic and leads for our clients.
So here is a summary of the attributes of today’s search engine optimization tactician (at least attributes I need to have!):
- We are Technical Analysts
We need to know how search engines crawl websites, what makes good code, how to write HTML markup language, how to tell what links are broken on your website, understand website architecture, and how to seek out and fix technical errors so that search engines index your site easier and more efficiently.
- We are Content Strategists
We need to know what makes good content writing; being able to consult on your website content from a readability and searchability standpoint. We tell you how to organize your content, and will recommend new content if needed, especially with blogs. That being said, we are proof-readers. We need to read every piece of content to make sure it is optimized properly for search and readership. If we have to, we will write as well!
- We are Social Media Strategists
We now know the importance of social media with search visibility. We understand Google+ and how to get your pictures shown on search engines when you write blogs. We tweet, post, and share. We can show how active social engagement contributes to rank.
- We are Brand Strategists
We need to know as much about your business as possible. We need to understand your brand and your target audiences. In order to do keyword research, we need to know what words your prospects use to find your solutions and products on search engines. Keyword tools help us identify these, but it starts from being an expert on your products and services, and how they differentiate from competition.
- We are Detectives!
Commonly known as “link builders,” we use a variety of research tools to seek out high quality and authoritative websites and utilize a multitude of tactics to obtain links to your website. We seek out online editors, bloggers, resource directories, review sites, and more, prioritize them on page rank and other factors that support their value, and get your firm listed, or “back linked” mostly via guest articles.
- We are Public Relations Managers
Once we find guest article opportunities, we put together editorial calendars and pitch great content that would be ideal for a certain blogger’s audience. We have to follow them on social, subscribe to their feeds, and create ongoing relationships with these influential writers. We call them, write them, and manage them on CRMs. We do this all for the almighty content backlink.
- We are “outsourced” Marketing Assistants
We support your digital marketing efforts and consult with you in marketing strategy. As listed above, we need to be part of your website strategy, your content strategy, your social media strategy, and your PR strategy. We talk to IT; we talk to writers; we talk to you. In essence, we are your trusted marketing assistants. We’ll show you website analytics reports, and make recommendations on website behavior.
The new book, The B2B Executive’s Guide to Lead Generation SEO, gives an overview of tasks from a strategic point of view. It’s more WHAT and WHY rather than HOW. The goal is to give Marketing Directors and above a better understanding of the SEO process, and what tasks SEO professionals do to increase your website traffic and conversions. Chapters are:
- Why SEO; and the Importance of Rank
- Keyword Research principles
- Technical Optimization
- Content Optimization
- Social Media Optimization
- Mobile SEO
- Meet Panda & Penguin
- Link Building Strategy
- Measuring Results
If you’d like a copy of the 120 page ebook, please email me at email@example.com and I’ll email you a copy when it’s ready after Labor Day.
I hope you find it useful once you read it.
I’ve been managing multiple SEO campaigns (mostly Philadelphia area based) recently because clients have asked, and I do it well, and in my observations of the practice, I have a word of advice: Get Real.
I say that because the goal of search engine optimization is to drive increased unbranded (terms that do not mention your company name) quality traffic to your website that converts into a desired action; nothing more; nothing less. That’s my goal with clients. It’s why you always have to track and optimize your efforts, think about what keywords you are optimized for, and what keywords you SHOULD be optimized for. It’s time to get real with this task, but not over-think it.
When I first assess a client’s strategy, I first have to really understand what the client does, what the goal of the website is, and what the conversion goals are. Following up on my recent post on keyword research, it’s important to match the search intent of your desired audience with your keywords and website content. Examples:
- Query type: Research
- Search query “information on how to __________”
- Website theme: Provide information, articles, and advice; provide educational content
- Website goal: Content-heavy with the goal to drive traffic and sell advertising on your site, bait audiences to a newsletter or a product (or affiliate)
- Query type: Service or business solutions
- Search query “looking for companies that do __________”
- Website theme: Promotional with benefit content; provide evidence of your services
- Website goal: Provide a business case that solves problems; and persuade audiences to convert as an inquiry
- Query type: Purchase
- Search query “I need a ________”
- Website theme: Showcase your products; provide content that reassures audiences of your quality, value, and expertise
- Website goal: Generate quotes or purchases, and minimize cart abandonment
The proper list of keywords you need all must follow these criteria:
- Align with what you do as a company. The words you identify for 1st page rankings must be aligned with your services and website goals. As you review your keywords, simply ask yourself- “why would a prospect click my listing for that keyword?” and “will the destination URL on my website align with that query in order to optimize conversions?
Get Real statement: It’s not what you rank for (because many terms may be irrelevant or are rarely searched), or how many terms you rank for, but are you ranked for the appropriate terms that would generate quality clicks to your website (and low bounce rates).
- Have decent search traffic. You could have a great product or service, but SEO doesn’t work if no one is searching for it or you choose the wrong keywords. This is where you do a comprehensive keyword assessment in order to identify what terms people use that need you. If your goal is to increase traffic, and your current website traffic is flat, then we need to re-think the terms you currently optimize for, and that means re-doing some of your website content.
Get Real statement: Stop thinking about what you do or what your content says you do if there are limited search queries for the keywords you are currently optimized for. Step out of the box and refocus your efforts and content on what prospects DO search for. Example- if you are a financial firm, and you provide wealth management services, and “wealth management services” has low traffic, you’ll need to re-optimize your content strategy if you get more and better quality traffic for “retirement planning services”
Caveat: If you are in a specialized business or have unique services with less competition, terms with low traffic counts may be appropriate if the conversion rate for those terms are proven profitable.
- Moderately or less competitive. Evaluating competitive rankings via Google’s keyword tools or 3rd party tools like SEOMoz, SEMRush and others can certainly give you guidance on how competitive your chosen keywords are and the opportunity to be on Google’s first page. Besides the tools, Google your keywords yourself, review the competition, and make note on how to differentiate yourself when your SEO firm writes meta titles and descriptions. If your keyword, although it may have high search volume, shows to be heavily competitive, you’ll have to invest in lots of time, funds, content, and resources to achieve a high ranking. This is why long-tail terms and geographic terms are much more achievable to achieve that 1st page rank; less competitive.
Get Real statement: Choosing the right keywords is an art and a science. Use tools and analytics to determine the traffic and the competition, and then be smart about the selection. Maybe instead of “Accounting software small business” you choose “Accounting software for law firms” if there’s decent monthly traffic for that term, and it’s not as competitive.
Typically we look at a ratio, comparing how many web sites include the keyword, and how many searches are done for that keyword. You have a better chance at 1st page ranking with a high ratio percentage. Formula:
Google searches per day / competition (websites that include your keyword term) = search ratio
So here’s an example for a title insurance company located in Pennsylvania.
|mortgage title insurance||
|title insurance companies||
|title insurance pa||
“Mortgage title insurance” is too broad. Even though there’s a fair amount of monthly traffic, the searches per day for just that term is very low, so it’s not worth optimizing for that phrase.
“Title insurance companies” is being indexed at a higher level according to Google (more website competition), but it also is a popular search term. The ratio is .18%. I usually eyeball a ratio of over .10% as a target keyword for clients. This is a good term to optimize for if I were a national company.
“Title insurance pa” is an ideal term to be optimized for, since the company is in Pennsylvania. The ratio is .53% which is really strong. Although the searches per day may be light, it can be assumed that all of those searches come from Pennsylvania, meaning traffic is targeted, and conversion rate would be positive.
Get Real statement: Choosing keywords to rank for on Google’s 1st page has to be strategic; I’ll say it again- it’s not about current rankings; it’s not about high searched terms; it’s about terms most likely to bring you engaged traffic and increased conversions.
In summary, proper SEO efforts work best when you have a keyword and website goal strategy working together. The process of optimizing website copy, and the art/science of back linking and guest blogging, means nothing if your website isn’t optimized for conversion. Choosing the right keywords, by matching your products and services with the keywords most likely to drive traffic by obtaining 1st page position, is what an SEO firm is supposed to do for you. Are they?
SEO isn’t easy, and as Google’s Panda and Penguin updates continue to evolve, the SEO art form has changed.
In the past it was more science; write generic or re-purposed articles, submit to article and blog directory engines, and capture backlinks. There’s a lot more to back linking of course.
There are a zillion of articles and debates on the Internet on SEO tactics and factors that contribute to high ranking. That’s what makes it interesting; no one went to school and earned MBAs in SEO. Even the top professionals in the field work to stay ahead of Google; what of article submission services, what of social signals and bookmarking, how do I attract bloggers to pick up client articles, and on and on.
Content Marketing is now at the forefront of SEO; more so than ever. Writing interesting articles and posts that target audiences that want to read them; articles that problem-solve; articles that explain complicated things, articles that showcase a solution in an interesting way and urges commenting and sharing. This, my friends, is what will drive back links…
So here is a list of significant issues to keep in mind with regard to today’s (and tomorrow’s) search engine optimization tactics (forget what you think, or go ahead and debate me!)
- Link building is time consuming, and ongoing. It’s a process of analysis, relationship building, and attention-to-detail
- Paid link services and link exchanges are generally not worth the effort especially with today’s Google.
- Stop distributing generic content to article directory submission services, and instead write quality, well-thought out content, and submit to high quality article directories or industry vertical ones if you find them. Distributing “article spam” may still work today, but does it really make sense to continue to fight Google in the long run?
- Stop or limit blog network distribution for guest posts. Here’s an idea, let’s research blogs you want to be a part of, contact the blogger, follow the blogger, and create a relationship. Guest posting is a great way to achieve back links because you’re being exposed to a new audience, and you’re becoming involved in a community. Guest blog research and outreach can be a job all in itself, which is why I employ s specialist for this task. It’s more than SEO, it’s old-school PR.
- Take advantage of Google Authorship. Blog posts that are linked to your Google+ Page that includes your photo drives more traffic than those not linked.
Content that attracts links need to be original, unique, useful, and timely. Think about the kinds of topics you can write about. I brainstorm with clients frequently as we build blog editorial calendars. Examples:
- Product Comparison
- Research Reports
- Survey Recaps
- Industry News; Opinions
- Case Studies
- Tools and Tips
- Unique Features or Services
- Executive Q&A or Interviews
- Free Widgets or Calculators
- Guest Contributors
The Content Challenge
The next step here is to put together an editorial calendar. I work with my SEO and content team to formulate two segments:
- On-site blog. Topics of interest to website visitors of our clients, all with unique URLs, page titles and descriptions, with a promotion plan (newsletter, social, email)
- Off-site SEO content. Topics of interest to third party blog sites or communities; those we are creating relationships with. We review each topic and determine the best approach for a specific content asset, whether it is a pitch to a blogger, an online editor, or an online press release distribution service. Usually this is planned content, but every so often we have to act quickly for any trigger events that occur. When these incidents happen we alert our client with the opportunity and then implement/promote the content event.
This post describes my brief approach to SEO and Content Marketing. Both strategies need to work together seamlessly for proper backlink strategies, which will eventually drive traffic to your website. If you’re SEO firm is automating most of its backlinking process, then I’d be concerned. We take a “human” approach to SEO. Like any lead generation program, it starts with the message.
I look forward to a discussion.
Hi, It’s Paul Mosenson, President of NuSpark Marketing. I welcome a guest post from our chief SEO tactician, Elizabeth Donkus. You’ll find this interesting.
Most SEO people aren’t marketers. They may be great technicians, but we need help when it comes to writing compelling content that drives leads. I am NuSpark Marketing’s chief SEO strategist, but I rely on the NuSpark content team to review my content recommendations and implement content within the SEO framework. An example of our SEO and content director integration is when writing meta tags and meta descriptions.
Meta description tags, though no longer as important as they once were believed to be in terms of achieving top search engine ranking results, still have incredible significance.
First, what exactly is the Meta description? A Meta description is a few sentences or a short paragraph that briefly highlights the content of the page. This tag is located in the <HEAD> section in the page code and is not visible to the visitors when they are on the page.
Oh so long ago, the Meta description could help a page rank in the search engines for the words that were contained within it. It’s no longer used by the top 3 – Google, Bing or Yahoo! as a factor for ranking.
Nowadays, whether you use keyword phrases that you are targeting in your Meta description tag or not, your search engine results will not be affected. So why not leave it out altogether?
There are several significant reasons why the Meta description should be used:
First, the Meta description can be used as the description on the search engine results page. It’s not always what is used as the description, as many people believe, depending on the search query, the most relevant text from the page may be used in the search engine result.
Second, the Meta description can be used in Google’s ‘Extended Sitelinks’ – again, not always. But from my research a well-crafted Meta description will more often be used as the description along with the extended sitelinks.
Third, and most important, when the Meta description is used in the search results page, it can help increase the click-thru-rate.
However, there is a certain structure that needs to be followed to create quality Meta descriptions that will ensure the best results. Every description needs to be:
- Keyword optimized – targeted keywords should flow naturally and be used intelligently. They should not be stuffed or forced into the text.
- Compelling – the description needs to motivate the searcher to click while still providing accurate information.
- Unique – no two Meta descriptions should ever be the same, even if there is more than one tag for the same topic. All content needs to be original.
- Concise – the paragraphs need to be brief and should be anywhere from 150 – 160 characters in length. Any longer than this and search engines will typically cut content. However, just because the search engine will only display a certain number of characters, does not mean that you cannot include as many characters as you believe to be necessary. If the page is being optimized for 3 keywords, write 3 optimized, compelling, unique and concise sentences for each word. Google will pull the best content from your Meta description for the search query – and it may not be a complete sentence. In fact, Google will pull from the Meta description as well as from the visible page content – whatever combination they believe will best match the search query.
The Meta description tag may have lost its ‘SEO’ value, but it still has a great deal of value when used to influence a potential visitor to click through to your site.
Let’s take a look at a sample search for Purchase Requisition Software. You’ll get an idea on how these meta descriptions should be structured for lead generation.
Bellwethercorp- Sure they are ranked first. Because of the 2009 date, this page is a blog, so I would skip this listing. It may be interesting reading, but not my intent for this search.
Evron- Nicely formatted and compelling content. This is a good one.
Erequester- The meta description is just keyword stuffing. Poor structure. No reason to click. Next listing..
Assetpoint- I like the lead generation tactic with the free purchase report, as long as it’s still available.
Trackeroffice- Content is too long and is a pure description. Doesn’t persuade me to click.
Mikrofax- Yes they have keywords in their meta, but the message just is not enticing to me.
Bellwethercorp- They show again; this time with a video and a free demo. That’s better. Notice the power of keyword optimization in the video title.
Ariett- This firm does have a meta description on the site, but doesn’t use the word “requisition.” Therefore Google looks for that content on other parts of the site. That’s why the fragments are shown. Lost opportunity for clicks.
10seconds Software. Good benefit statement; nicely worded although a little long. They get a click from me if I have an SAP platform.
In summary, SEO and Content Marketing need to collaborate for proper meta description structure. That’s how we work at NuSpark Marketing. No matter how much keyword research and backlink management you do in order to optimize search engine positioning, it’s still about persuading prospects to click. Once clicked, the opportunity for conversion and lead generation begins. Go ahead and search for your solutions on Google, make pretend you’re a prospect, and ask yourself, would you click?
I look forward to discussion.
For those who manage multiple paid search campaigns for lead generation (like yours truly) with Google Adwords, or have others do it, I started testing a new feature that was rolled out this week, called Labels. The new feature allows you to organize campaigns, ad groups, ads, and keywords by label classifications, so that you can see what types of categories work better than others. This does not replace creating unique ad groups for quality score improvement, but allows cross-over ad group, keyword analysis. I don’t need to explain the how of implementing labels; I’ll let Google do that.
At this early stage, you really want to think about how you can use this feature. It speaks to search intent, and how users search for solutions via the purchase cycle. Here’s an example using one of my clients that sells training programs to sales managers to improve the effectiveness of their sales meetings:
Research represents ad groups and keywords that focus on early funnel activity; when prospects are researching needs just identified and looking to further explore potential solutions.
- Complementary keywords for the Research label: Ideas, solutions, programs, sales training (broad, phrase, exact matches)
- Examples: “sale training programs” “sales training solutions” “sales training”
- Ad Groups that represent research terms are also labeled as Research
These terms get more into the problems of the prospect and terms used to find specific answers to those problems.
- Complementary keywords for the How-To label: Tips, techniques, skills, tools
- Examples: “improving sales skills” “sales techniques” “sales training tools”
- Labels vs. Ad Groups: Skills, Techniques, Tips, Tools are all unique Ad Groups, but same label.
These terms focus on the end results of the solution.
- Complementary keywords for the Outcomes label: Performance, Effectiveness, Productivity
- Examples: “improving sales performance” “increasing sales productivity”
- Labels vs. Ad Groups: Performance, Effectiveness, Productivity are all unique Ad Groups, but same label.
Some other labels you might want to consider depending on your business, with example complementary keywords:
- Comparative: “Best” “Top” “Proven” “Reviews” “Opinions”
- Vendor List: “Directory” “List” “Guide” “information”
- Purchase: “Buy” “Costs” “Prices” “Quotes”
- Outsource: “Firms” “Companies” “Agencies” “Consultants” “Vendors”
- Industry: “Law firms, “Accounting” “Technology”
Labels are easy to add and adjust, so it’s OK to experiment with label groupings.
Here’s an example of a Label report by Ad Group, showing that the How-To Label performs the best in this scenario.
Again, it’s a new feature, but I think I like classifying this stuff, and the feature does allow me to expand terms and research more “how-to” keyword and ad groups to further optimize the campaign.
I look forward to hearing from you and learning how you might classify labels for your own campaigns. If you’d like some guidance, please send me an email or call me.