Search Industry

Tips for Building a Better Story for Your Brand

Tips for Building a Better Story for Your Brand

Consumer brand perception and building engaging brand stories are fundamental to consumer awareness. The stories that brands weave into the marketplace have never been more important than now. With consumers’ access to multiple options via the Internet, your brand needs to really stand out to capture the attention of prospects, whether they encounter your brand on your products, in your storefront, on your website, or on sales booklets. The best way to do this is create a unique story for your brand. If you are able to attach a memorable story to your brand, then consumers are more likely to not only notice and remember you but also grow an emotional attachment to you.

Successful Brands Always Create & Share Stories

Brands build stories by creating value for society and solving the world’s problems. Brands are expected to do this while remaining profitable. Most successful brands work hard to contribute to the community within niche areas. Some brands have closely aligned themselves with causes. However, those receiving the most recognition are the brands that bring consumers on board with causes. Consumers enjoy supporting organizations they feel enable them to make a difference in the world.

Therefore, make sure to connect your brand with whatever charity organization you support. Let your customers know about your support by placing this tidbit of information on your labels, your website, your sales brochures, or any other piece of your brand in the public eye.

Story Building Translates into Sales & Customer Retention

The brightest marketers are aware of the importance of bridging the gap between announcing the brand’s good deeds and allowing consumers to join in to solve the problems as a team. Giving consumers the tools to assist in story creation for the brand leads to a better, more engaging story overall. Consumers become invested in the brand and become willing to spend money because they are investing in their own story. Some of the brands with the best stories are companies like Disney, Apple, and Nike; you may notice that the best stories are directly related to the value of the company’s stock.

To involve customers with your brand story, come up with a way to engage them either imaginatively or tangibly. For instance, it may be as simple as images that show customers living the lifestyle you portray or creating this environment in your store (such as with Starbucks and the strong brand environment found in every shop). Or you may get customers more fully engaged with a contest. You could even ask consumers to vote on certain brand story aspects.

Create & Refine Brand Stories for Optimum Results

Creating and organizing a brand story can seem daunting. Knowing what the story is about isn’t the hard part. Communicating a brand story in an interesting and relevant manner to audiences is the key. Story telling is the strongest form of brand building. Story telling is ingrained in almost every culture; it’s how humanity conveys ideas. Integrating story telling with public relations efforts can cause phones to ring off the hook and effectively build a brand.

If your brand is a product, consider placing your brand story on the back of the product. When consumers are perusing the store shelves looking for that perfect shampoo/conditioner, they very often read the back for ingredients. Your story will catch their eye and hopefully intrigue them enough to try out your product.

Share Success Stories with Consumers

One of the best methods companies can use is sharing success stories. This works effectively throughout all mediums – social media, print, TV. Stories that assist customers in overcoming obstacles and achieve success are stories that inspire action from consumers. Delivering stories like these is what brand building is all about.

Do you remember eating the cereal Wheaties for breakfast while reading the story of the latest sponsored athlete on the back of the box? This is an excellent example of how to engage customers with success stories associated with your brand story.

Build Interactive Brand Stories

Successful brands build stories and share them with consumers. Although story telling works with all mediums, the best medium for engaging consumers is through social media. When creating stories, make them interactive by posting them on major social media sites. Use a positive story on Twitter to blast a post on Facebook. If you get a favorable review, let your followers know. Show the brand at work making lives better and you’ll see improved engagement as customers make your goods and services a part of their story.

Looking Ahead: Pigeon and Local SEO in 2015

Looking Ahead: Pigeon and Local SEO in 2015

Perhaps the single most critical update for local search in 2014 was Google’s announcement of the Pigeon algorithm, which had major implications for small businesses and local SEOs. Pigeon significantly changed the way local businesses are ranked by integrating basic web search ranking signals into localized queries. The result: a far more dynamic ranking of local businesses that is highly relevant to the user’s individual search based on their query and geographic location–and a more complicated challenge for SEOs.

There are a slew of rising SEO trends in 2015 that experts are keeping an eye on, and local SEO is certainly one that should not be overlooked. Google is putting greater effort into local search, and we must do the same. This entails, according to Search Engine Journal columnist Greg Gifford, that we take a more inclusive approach and not become sidetracked by individual tactics that seem to impact one or two ranking signals. Instead, we should observe how involved local search rankings have become, and strategize various tactics that account for each of the major ranking signals.

2014 Trends in Local Search Rankings

Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors survey, conducted by David Mihm, visualized this increase in the complexity of local search results. Participants in the survey were asked to weigh the influence they have observed of certain ranking signal groups. On-page signals, which include keywords in titles and domain authority, among others, held a 21% influence over rankings. Link signals–including linking domain authority, quantity, etc.–came in second at 18.3 percent, and external location signals was third at 15.5%. While there were eight groups in total , and some held more influence than others, no single ranking signal outweighed any other significantly enough to warrant a narrowed focus in local SEO strategy.

The survey, which you can view in detail here, goes into further detail about the differences between localized organic results and pack/carousel results, and asks participants to rank the importance of specific individual ranking factors. In the final section, participants ranked 10 factors that have increased in importance since the Pigeon update. Domain authority is considered to be the most important factor affected by Pigeon, with proximity to searcher, the authority of inbound links to the domain, and the authority of inbound links to the landing page close behind.

Seeing the Big Picture with Local Search

In his post, “Local SEO in 2015 – Look at the Big Picture”, Gifford advises SEOs to shy away from using a “microscope” in their strategies, arguing instead that the focus should be on the “big picture”. This statement is only reinforced by the findings of Mihm’s survey.

Local SEO is not, nor has it ever been, based upon a single tactic. Recently, it seems like many business owners will read a post or watch a video, realize that they’re not utilizing the tactic mentioned, and immediately drop everything and concentrate on the shiny new object…A few years ago, you could rock some citations and do nothing else, and you’d still rank at the top of the map pack. Now, there might not even be a map pack for your vertical.

Google’s recent approach to local search has proven that single-tactic strategies do not work. Pigeon itself integrated a myriad of ranking factors into U.S. search rankings, and in the final week of 2014, Google rolled out Pigeon internationally, beginning with the UK, Canada, and Australia, and expanding to all English-speaking locales except India. The extensive roll-out of Pigeon is just one of several updates Gifford notes in his post that further demonstrate the continued evolution of local search we can expect to see in 2015.

Should we be concerned with the trajectory of local search in 2015? Probably not. By integrating more complex ranking signals into local search rankings, Google is forcing local SEO’s to avoid shortcuts and tunnel vision. Founder of Fuze SEO, and Yext Partner, Jon Clark, reminds us that, “Pigeon is a very SEO-friendly update. Because the update aims to align local search with traditional web search, many best practice SEO strategies still apply. On-page optimizations, link building, and a solid content strategy are strong ranking signals for all searches; these should be a key component of your local search strategy.” If anything, integrated local search rankings will help SEOs with their overall strategies.

Looking Ahead: 10 SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2015

Looking Ahead: 10 SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2015

Believe it or not, 2014 is almost over. This year we’ve seen the release of the first Penguin update in in over a year, the launch of an entirely new local search algorithm dubbed Pigeon, and the announcement of site encryption as a ranking signal. People have hotly debated the importance of the keyword, while content marketers have continued to espouse the increasing importance of a solid content strategy.

Most of us are already looking ahead to what 2015 might have in store SEO. While the landscape of our industry sometimes moves at an almost breakneck pace, based on how 2014 has gone, it is easy to predict which SEO trends will dominate the new year. Here are our picks for the 10 most important SEO trends to keep your eye on in 2015.

1. Mobile optimization is key to success

Back in July, Search Engine Watch reported that, for the first time in history, mobile usage exceeded PC usage. This is a continuously growing trend that has enormous implications for SEO, as users are doing more of their searching on smart phones or tablets, hopping, accessing content, and connecting on social media. B2B sites are also significantly impacted, as the rate of users searching on mobile devices for business purposes is also increasing.

Google is emphasizing the importance of a site’s usability across mobile devices. Search results now display a mobile friendly icon to indicate which sites can be seamlessly used on mobile devices, and mobile optimization has been a ranking signal for over a year. In 2015, optimizing for mobile search will need to become a pivotal part of your SEO strategy.

2. Search will continue being fragmented across different channels

Much as users are searching across devices, SEOs must recognize that they are also searching across different platforms and channels. While Google still maintains a hold over the search market share, other platforms and search engines are gaining traction. Just last month, Firefox removed Google as its default search engine and switched to Yahoo. Not too long ago, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt identified Amazon as the search engine’s largest competitor. Per his reasoning, people are now going to e-commerce sites directly when searching for something to buy.

The same is true of mobile apps, which provide content and information to users directly without needing to search through a search engine. SEOs should keep in mind that the way users search is changing.

3. User intent and long-tail search traffic should focus your keyword strategy

For a long time, Google has demonstrated a commitment to search results that accurately reflect user intent–that is, not only what the user searches, but why they search for it. This is an important upper level of the funnel to target users, and in 2015, SEOs should be mindful of those longer-tail keywords that qualify a lead, customer, or conversion before they’ve reached the site.

Which keywords demonstrate that someone is searching for your product or service? What keywords will lead them to your site before they’ve begun searching your branded keywords? A combination of keyword research and an understanding of the habits of your target audience will help you identify where in their search process you should begin targeting them.

4. Build relationships in your community and space

Content is one of the focuses of SEOs in today’s industry, but far beyond the creation of great content is its promotion and distribution. In determining the relevance of a site’s content to a search query, Google searches for the community that has been built around that content. That “community” encompasses links, social mentions, shares, and a swath of other indicators that your content is relevant, valuable, and contributes to your space.

Building relationships is key here. SEOs should focus on reaching out to fellow bloggers, organizing social campaigns, engaging with thought leaders, and staying active on social media campaigns. Building relationships with other innovators in your space ensures maximum exposure for your content, and is an excellent way to earn quality links.

5. Earn, don’t build, links

A result of the relationships you form are earned links back to your site, which have always been more valuable than purchased links, or referrals attained through unfocused link building tactics. Links remain one of the most prominent ranking signals, and Google places heavy emphasis on quality, organic links.

6. The rise of brand mentions

With the search landscape evolving to serve user intent, there is renewed focus on the power of the brand. A company’s brand is crucial to establishing their online presence. It is their number one distinguishing factor–how their audience recognizes and interacts with them–and Google is factoring brand into its rankings. According to Forbes, Google now differentiates between “explicit links” and “implied links”–that is, traditional backlinks versus mentions of a brand without a link. It is predicted that over 2015, brand mentions will become as important as “dofollow” links.

7. Social integration

While Google Authorship may not have had the impact Goole hoped for, the integration of social media and SEO is still high on their radar. It is likely that 2015 will see an increased value in social signals for rankings–Facebook and Twitter activity that ties into the relationships formed around content and the relevance of a brand to its audience. The exact importance of social activity to the ranking algorithm remains a subject of speculation, but most experts agree that if Google is not already accounting for a site’s social media activity, they soon will be.

8. Content remains king

The creation of content has been at the center of a new wave of SEO for some time now, and this is a trend that will only continue into 2015. Users demand engaging, relevant content customized to their own unique experience, and the worlds of SEO and content marketing are continuing to overlap. In general, a large part of many SEO strategies are driven by the creation and promotion content that integrates a variety of formats and multimedia as opposed to text to create a dynamic user experience.

9. Integrating SEO with other disciplines

Forbes also predicts that the isolation of SEO teams from other teams in the marketing department will soon be coming to an end. In keeping with the increased importance of content marketing to SEO, cross-disciplinary teams of content marketers, social media professionals, SEOs, and other related verticals will become the norm. As web marketers, each background we come from plays an important part in the managing of a brand or a site’s web presence.

10. Beware Negative SEO

On a precautionary note, 2015 may be the year of negative SEO. As the industry overall works to adapt to changes in search and re-establish its commitment to white-hat tactics, those black-hat practitioners are still using tactics to damage the work we do. Negative SEO involves building thousands of spammy links to a competitor with the hopes of causing their rankings to drop, and is a serious threat to websites. Disavowing links, a complex and timely procedure, is the only known way to repair the damage caused by Negative SEO, and Forbes predicts that as the threat continues to rise, Google may need to consider ways to maintain the integrity of search rankings and recognize manipulative links.

All in all, 2014 has proven to be a typical year in the world of SEO: exciting and fast-paced, with several developments that could potentially change the course of the industry. As we look towards 2015, we anticipate another busy year of change. Are you ready for it?

16 Things SEOs are Tired of Hearing

16 Things SEOs are Tired of Hearing

We get it: not everybody gets SEO. The industry has been thriving for a long time now, but it is still a considerably small branch of an overall digital marketing strategy, and those outside the industry are less likely to know the ins-and-outs. Clients, and even people on other marketing teams, may understandably need some clarification about a lot of things when we try explaining our day-to-day. Still, there are a lot of misconceptions that come up a lot, and of course, they can be exhausting. Which of these 17 things are you most tired of hearing?

“I need you to help me rank #1 in Google for X amount of keywords…”

Keyword Rankings


“…by next week.”

Ranking by Next Week


“I want to rank for ALL the keywords!!!!”

Rank for all the keywords


“Can’t I just pay for all my links?”Paying for Links


Link building is dead.”

Linkbuilding


“Google has just announced the rollout of a new update to their Penguin algorithm…”

Penguin update


“I don’t really have the time or the resources to devote to content.”

Content Creation


“Can we just stuff a bunch of keywords in here?”

Keyword stuffing


“We don’t really tweet…”

Tweeting


…or the other extreme…”let’s just move everything to our social channels”!

Social Channels


“Let’s do an Infographic!”

Infographic


“My content is AMAZING….so what if the bounce rate is high?”Bounce Rate


“All you need is great content, and it’ll promote itself.”

Content Promotion


“Do I really need a sitemap?”
Sitemap


“So…what exactly IS SEO?”

What is SEO


“What do you do all day?”

What do you do all day


5 Disciplines and Skills All SEOs Should Learn

5 Disciplines and Skills All SEOs Should Learn

As SEOs, we wear many different hats in managing clients’ various web properties. We are content strategists. We are link builders. We are outreach coordinators, as well as data analysts. Sometimes we are even developers. At last month’s C3 Conference, Brian McDowell, Director of Search Intelligence for Conductor, discussed an overall shift in the perception of SEO from siloed search engine optimization to web presence management.

Web presence management, a more holistic approach to web marketing, encompasses multiple disciplines working together to power a brand from a variety of channels—paid search, social media, SEO, and more. Web presence management is “not a one man task”, says McDowell, but the effort of a team comprised of talented people from different backgrounds, with a diverse range of skillsets.

While managing a brand is not a one man task, being familiar, at least at a cursory level, with other web marketing disciplines, can strengthen your own skills as an SEO. If you work for an agency or an in-house team, exposure to these other disciplines is often encouraged. If you are a consultant, then having an understanding of other disciplines is important to guiding your strategy and identifying additional areas of need for your client. Here are five other disciplines that can make you a better SEO.

1. Social Media

While social media has always been important to increasing brand awareness, there is an increasing trend in the relevance of social media to search. In their efforts to further emphasize user intent, Google is placing greater importance on social media, integrating activity on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and other channels into its ranking signals.

It’s becoming more important to harness traffic driven to your site through social channels for ranking purposes. Learning social media enables you to take advantage of this trend, helping you identify opportunities across social channels and interacting with their networks in engaging ways that drive them back to your site. You can acquire new customers directly through your increased social presence, and the activity will be a boost to your rankings.

2. Paid Search

Paid search, or Search Engine Marketing (SEM), involves gaining traffic by purchasing ads on search engines. SEO targets keywords organically where SEM places bids on high-volume keywords for the paid advertisements to appear in those searches. While these may be different approaches, they can still inform one another. Experience with SEM can give you keener insight into keywords, as analyzing the performance of paid keywords can inform your organic keyword strategy.

3. HTML Coding

Many experts agree that learning HTML is one of the most essential technical skills for SEOs to have. Even more than HTML, however, is a working knowledge—if not fluency—in more advanced coding, such as CSS. Codes are the language in which the internet is written, and in order to properly optimize websites, SEOs should be familiar with the way their sites are coded and structured. Much can be done in SEO without a technical knowledge of coding, but certain key components—such as Meta tags and the XML site map—depend on you being comfortable with HTML. You will be able to directly optimize sites on a much more structured level, without relying on a webmaster to carry out SEO recommendations.

4. Programming

PHP, JavaScript, JQuery, and other programming languages dictate the behavior and functionality of websites. They are far more involved (though can be integrated with) HTML code, and for SEOs, being able to interpret and manipulate this coding expands your ability to test and experiment. Create a more engaging user experience by serving content based on IP address, browser, language, and other personalized factors.

Responsive design and a website’s adaptability to different devices are all made possible through these codes. While much of this falls out of your domain, an understanding of JavaScript or PHP can help you work more closely with a web developer, and keeps you involved in the development process.

5. Analytics

It’s not enough to simply strategy and implement site optimizations. A good SEO is responsible for monitoring the performance of their sites, tracking changes and analyzing trends from before and after. While you may be working with other people solely dedicated to data analysis, it will help you cultivate your own strategy if you take ownership of that data. An SEO should be able to utilize different tools, such as Google Analytics,  Webmaster Tools, Conductor, or BrightEdge, to thoroughly mine the data for pages and analyze how their optimizations are performing. Site traffic, conversion rate, rankings, and other key metrics are crucial to determining what is working and what you need to refine.

It’s not necessary to become an expert in all things web marketing. Your area of expertise is SEO, and that is what you bring to the table. But it never hurts to expand your knowledge—to diversify your skill set. Exposing yourself to these other fields can give you a better understanding of your own, and makes it easier to work with others on a team. After all, with the way our industry changes on an almost daily basis, adaptability is a prerequisite for the job!

Self-Education for SEOs: 15 Actionable Tips on Learning Your Client’s Vertical

Self-Education for SEOs: 15 Actionable Tips on Learning Your Client’s Vertical

As SEOs, we encounter clients across a plethora of verticals. Every industry needs to optimize for search engines–from education and real estate to entertainment and e-commerce. This makes a thorough knowledge of search engines a highly sought-after skill, but it also means SEOs need to be highly adaptable and ready for anything.

Whether you work for an agency, as a consultant, or even on an in-house SEO team, your career will expose you to subject matters you may not be familiar with. You don’t need to be an expert on your client’s vertical, but to create an effective SEO strategy and build trust, it helps to develop at least a preliminary knowledge of their industry. Consider these 15 tips your guide to educating yourself on the basics of your client’s vertical.

1.) Begin with your keyword research

After conducting your research, type in some of the most searched phrases–not just to identify gaps and opportunities, but to read up on the topic from some of the top ranking sites.

2.) Don’t rush your site audit

When auditing your client’s site, take your time to absorb their content. Learn what they have to say about the space they’re in, and familiarize yourself with their mission, business model, and history–all of which go into strengthening your own relationship with them.

3.) Competitor research

Researching competitors is standard practice in identifying new opportunities, but competitor sites can also be a source of information for SEOs to learn more about the space.

4.) Request materials from previous SEOs

Has your client worked with an agency or consultant previously? Those documents and research can not only inform your own strategy, but give you insight on the space from another SEOs perspective.

5.) Sign up for Google News alerts

Keeping tabs on relevant news alerts will keep you current on what’s happening in your client’s space.

6.) Follow influencers

Follow prominent influencers and thought leaders in the space across social media channels, and subscribe to their newsletters or RSS feeds.

7.) Follow conversations and trending topics

Following trends and conversations will give you good insight into the vertical from a community perspective.

8.) Familiarize yourself with regulations and restrictions

Does your client work in a heavily regulated industry, such as education, healthcare, or finance? An even cursory knowledge of any laws or mandates that regulate their vertical should give you an idea of the limitations to your own strategy.

9.) Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Asking thoughtful questions about your client’s industry shows you’re thorough. Identify areas where you need clarification, and before presenting recommendations, arrange a meeting with the client to learn directly from them.

10.) Establish a point of contact

When sourcing or writing content, establish a point of contact in your client’s organization to answer questions, review content, and provide additional resources or information.

11.) Leverage your writers

If you are sourcing content externally, choose your writers carefully. Search for writers with a thorough knowledge of the industry, who have either a career or educational background in a related field and can use their experience to inform their writing. Once you’ve found a writer you and your client are confident knows the field, lean on them as the experts to drive robust content.

12.) Learn about the local community

For local SEO particularly, learn about your client’s community. Identify local businesses as potential link partners, relevant discussions on social media your client can join, and local news or events to create content around.

13.) Read reviews about your client

Does your client own a restaurant, a private medical practice, or real estate firm? For clients who have their own clients, it is likely that people review them on other sites. Reading these reviews can help you manage your client’s reputation as well as identify needs they may not be meeting.

14.) Learn through link building

Using tools like Mention to find places where your client is referenced but not linked to is good practice for building links, but taking a little extra time to read the articles is good for your own self-edification. You’ll learn more about the space and how your client fits into it.

15.) Leverage SEO communities

Places like Reddit, Google +, and even Moz, have community spaces where SEOs can post questions and leverage the expertise of others. If you’re taking on a client in a space that’s new to you, chances are other SEOs have worked in that space before. While you should avoid posting questions specific to your client, use some of these spaces to source general information to influence your own overall strategy.

SEO best practices are universal, but must still be tailored to each individual client to meet their specific needs. And unless you narrow your scope to only focus on clients in a specific industry, you must be prepared to learn enough about any given vertical to target relevant keywords in the field, craft a content strategy, and identify link building opportunities. Integrating these tips into your own strategy can help you adapt to almost any kind of client you take on.

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 After More Than a Year

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 After More Than a Year

On Friday, October 17, 2014, Google finally released Penguin 3.0: the sixth iteration of the Penguin algorithm and the first update in over a year. The release comes after much speculation, following a statement by Bruce Clay at Pubcon Las Vegas on October 9. According to Clay, sources had alluded to the fact that a major Google update would be rolled out within the next 10 days, and sure enough, the update everyone’s been waiting for was released eight days later. SEOs and webmasters have been eagerly awaiting the next Penguin update due to the unique nature of the algorithm. With Penguin, if a website is impacted negatively, the effects of any changes you made won’t be apparent until the next iteration. So for those who took a hit last October when Penguin 2.1 rolled out, it is only now when they will see if their efforts have paid off. Google confirmed that the roll out of Penguin 3.0 was completed on the morning of Monday, October 20, 2014.

Penguin: an Overview

Google unveiled Penguin back in 2012 with the purpose of ensuring that search queries yielded relevant results from trustworthy, authority sites. The emphasis was on quality, user-focused content, and it can be said that Penguin 1.0 was the catalyst of the resurgence of content-driven marketing strategies that are dominating the current landscape of SEO. On the flip side, Penguin penalizes sites that utilize black-hat link building tactics, with each iteration refining the algorithm to target more poor practices that yield spammy, low-quality links. Naturally acquired links, such as through social media, are now the preferred practice. Paid links, guest posts, and other link-baiting tactics are now severely discouraged. It is still too early to tell exactly how Penguin 3.0 is affecting searches, though initial impressions are that it specifically targets spammy links. It is also unclear what percentage of searches have been impacted by the now-complete update. Initial data was mixed, according to Search Engine Journal. Some sites have shown either sharp inclines or declines in traffic, whereas others have shown no change whatsoever. Experts believe that Penguin has either eluded search volatility tools, making it difficult to detect the actual percentage of sites affected, or that only a very small number of sites experienced an impact. Either way, we can expect additional data, different points of view, and Google’s official statement to guide reactions to Penguin 3.0 in coming days.

Penguin-Proofing Your Site

In Search Engine Journal’s report on Penguin 3.0, their managing editor, Kelsey Jones, indicated that none of her clients were affected by the update. She attributed to the quality and regularity of their content: Amazing content is the only thing that is Google update-proof. Google will never penalize useful, unique content that the user is actually looking for. Instead of spending your time on trying to beat Google algorithms, you should be focusing on asking yourself what your ideal end user really wants… Google is always changing, and part of our job as SEOs is to stay ahead of the curve. While we can’t anticipate Google’s moves, it is clear that their general evolution is towards a user driven experience, where search results are highly personalized and reliable. We can’t just think ahead to the next algorithm–what that “might” be, and how we can trick it. Our strategies have to be long term, creating a solid plan for our sites that is truly focused on the needs of our particular audience.

10 SEO Plugins for WordPress to Make Your Life Easier

10 SEO Plugins for WordPress to Make Your Life Easier

WordPress is one of the most popular and widely used content management systems (CMS) on the web, used by over 40 percent of all sites. Known for its user-friendly interface and an array of over 30,000 plugins to extend its functionality, WordPress is something most SEOs encounter on a daily basis. For many larger enterprises, a more complex and intricate CMS is needed, but for blogs and small to medium-sized businesses, WordPress meets most of a webmaster’s needs.

Whether you are working with clients who use WordPress as their CMS, or you yourself use it for your own corporate site or blog, navigating WordPress is an important skill for SEOs to have. Luckily, the extensive database of plugins offers a slew of great tools that will make optimizing the site that much easier.

Check out these 10 SEO plugins you should be using!

1.) WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast is a comprehensive plugin that not only allows you to optimize for all the technical aspects of your page, but also helps you write better content. By forcing you to choose a focus keyword for each particular page, the plugin acts as a guide, steering you towards better and more Google-friendly content. It has a highly advanced Google XML sitemap functionality, and it allows you to control all the Meta data of your page, from title tags to Meta descriptions. The plugin even analyzes your pages and tells you which elements are missing so you can ensure each is completely optimized.

2.) W3 Total Cache

Site speed is an important ranking signal for the Google algorithm, and this plugin is designed to optimize user experience and page speed. W3 Total Cache increases server performance to reduce download times and provide transparent content delivery network integration. An important plugin for SEOs, particularly to address the site speed implications of transitioning to HTTPS.

3.) Google XML Sitemaps

Having an XML Sitemap is key to ensuring your site is properly indexed by search engines. This plugin is easy to use and will generate a complete XML sitemap for your entire website that will make it easier for search engines to crawl your pages. Google XML Sitemaps also alerts search engines of updates to content.

4.) Squirrly

Considered ideal for non-SEO experts, Squirrly allows you to optimize content as you’re writing it, and is compatible with other SEO plugins such as Yoast or the All-In-One SEO Pack. Squirrly works in real time, offering advice for optimizing content while you’re editing the page, and indicating (via green lights) when a page is properly optimized. It helps you find and target keywords, and can audit your site on a weekly basis to provide key insights into performance and areas of weakness.

5.) Simple URLS

Simple URLs allows you to manage all the outbound links from your site using custom post types and 301 redirects to avoid performance issues and permalink conflicts. With this plug in you can create, edit, delete, and track outbound links.

6.) SEO Friendly Images

This plugin optimizes your site’s images by automatically updating them with the proper ALT and TITLE attributes.

7.) RB Internal Links

Internal linking is crucial to the architecture of any site, helping you establish a page’s authority within the website. RB Internal Links eliminates the need to manually link to other pages, let alone try to remember unwieldy URLs. The plugin uses shortcodes that are converted into the current permalink on the render of the page you’re editing, and the links update automatically if ever you change your link structure.

8.) SEO Ultimate

SEO Ultimate gives you total control over all elements of your page, from title and Meta tags to 404 errors, rich snippets, Open Graph, autolinks, canonical links, and more. Edit keywords and Meta descriptions, rewrite title tags, and integrate Authorship into your content. SEO Ultimate allows you to set canonical links to point search engines to specific content, and you can even automatically link specifically designated anchor text every time the chosen text appears on your site.

 9.) All-in-One SEO Pack 

The All-in-One SEO Pack is one of the most popular and widely used plugin of its type. Similar to WordPress SEO by Yoast, the All-in-One SEO Pack allows you to optimize your page for search engines by  giving you control over all Meta descriptions, title tags, Meta keywords, and advanced canonical URLs. It also automatically generates all of this for you, making it highly useful for beginners.

10.) WP Social

This is an important plugin for integrating social media, optimizing your site’s Social SEO by integrating Facebook Open Graph, Twitter Card and Google Rich Snippets to your site. WP Social includes all the different kinds of microdata supported by Google, and automatically adds the proper Meta tags across each social media platform supported by the plugin.

As you well know, a lot goes into optimizing a site for SEO. Fortunately, there is an extensive community of SEO experts and professionals who recognize the need for tools that make search engine optimization more manageable. What SEO plugins for WordPress are in your toolbox?

DuckDuckGo: What SEOs Need to Know About the Search Engine

DuckDuckGo: What SEOs Need to Know About the Search Engine

DuckDuckGoUPDATE: On September 9, 2014, Apple announced the release of the iPhone 6, the highly anticipated new generation of the iPhone. When the iPhone 6 is released on September 19th, the device will run on Apple’s new operating system, iOS 8 (launching on September 17th). One key feature of iOS 8 is the ability for users to set DuckDuckGo as their default mobile search engine. With Apple’s inclusion of DuckDuckGo, the search engine will be exposed to millions of new users, making it very important for SEOs to keep on our radar. New DuckDuckGo features, in addition to those listed below, include a customizable interface and !Bangs, which allows you to search other sites from the search engine.

From a consumer standpoint, DuckDuckGo, the search engine that emphasizes privacy above all else, is the ideal option for search. Unlike other search engines, namely Google, DuckDuckGo does not track or store IP addresses or log user information. The site claims to be completely secure, and search results are not filtered by preferences, search history, location, or any other identifying data. This means that everybody sees the same results for a search query, with is intended to preserve the quality and relevancy of results.

Furthermore, DuckDuckGo pulls its results from what it claims to be the best sources as opposed to the most. Yandex, Wikipedia, Yahoo!, Wolfram Alpha, Bing, and about 50 other sources including its own web crawler (DuckDuckBot) comprise the search engine’s sources. The site also filters websites with excessive advertising and “content mills” with high volumes of thin, low quality content.

This past May, DuckDuckGo unrolled a newly redesigned version that boasted a slew of new features, including:

  • Images and videos
  • Local search
  • Smart answers
  • Recipe search
  • More meanings for ambiguous terms
  • A sleeker and more user friendly interface

History

DuckDuckGo has been around since 2008, when founder Gabriel Weinberg set out to find an alternative to spam in search results. If the search engine is nearly six years old, why is this something SEOs should now be paying attention to? As an emerging trend in search, DuckDuckGo is something you should always have on your radar, although it  is recently that the search engine has gained massive traction.

Search Engine Land reported last week that things are going “swimmingly” well for DuckDuckGo. In 2013 alone, the platform saw 1 billion searches, a tremendous spike in activity that many attribute to the scandal surrounding Edward Snowden. Once the former NSA employee blew the whistle on the government’s top-secret PRISM surveillance program, people became obsessed with protecting their privacy and avoid tracking.

Market Share

Within days after the PRISM story broke, DuckDuckGo nearly doubled its total number of searches to ever come before, and while the spike has tapered off, the search engine continues to see sustained growth. Another huge boon to DuckDuckGo’s success came in June, when Apple unveiled that it would make DuckDuckGo available as a search option for users in its forthcoming iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite, demonstrating a further move towards  an emphasis of private search.

While DuckDuckGo still receives only a small fraction of Google’s daily (let alone, monthly) traffic, the site continues to grow. It is still making headlines, as argued by a July 2013 Search Engine Land article and reaffirmed by the recent announcement from Apple. It may be a while before DuckDuckGo constitutes a viable threat to Google, but it is nonetheless a site that SEOs should keep an eye on.

If anything, DuckDuckGo’s model rewards the refocusing of SEO best practices to emphasize relevant links, great content, and strategic keyword targeting. FAQ pages are conducive to the site’s smart answers feature, and so are mentions from other relevant and reliable sites. One interesting tip that Forbes offers in its “5 SEO Tips for DuckDuckGo” is to link to Wikipedia. These are generally considered to be quality links, although Wikipedia is also one of the primary sources from which DuckDuckGo pulls its results, which makes it even more relevant to optimizing for this search engine. But essentially, if a site ranks well on another search engine, it will also rank well on DuckDuckGo—it just won’t appear in the top rankings as a result of the user’s search history or preferences. In this regard, DuckDuckGo’s privacy model just goes to prove that, at the end of the day, good SEO is good SEO.