Tag Archives: search engine optimization

Optimizing Images in WordPress for Google Image Search

Ever wondered how to get your images to appear in Google Image Search? The process is similar to getting a web page to rank well in Google Web Search: optimize your image so that Google sees your image as relevant content. Let me walk you through a few things that you can do when adding images from within WordPress that will help your images get noticed by the search engines.

Choose your keywords

As with any SEO endeavor, you have to decide up front what keywords you want your image to rank for.  Doing this right takes a little work, but the payoff is worth it:

  1. Research – Pick a few keywords that you think are descriptive of your image. Do some research and extend your original list of keywords.
  2. Evaluate – Take your keywords and plug them into the Google AdWords Keyword Tool.  Take into account the search volume and competitive nature of the keywords.
  3. Decide – Choose a relevant keyword with moderate traffic and, if possible, one that isn’t too competitive.  Most importantly, make sure your target keyword actually describes the content of your image.

Name your image

The actual filename of your image matters.  Unfortunately, once you upload your image into WordPress, you can’t change the filename.  Before you upload your image, make sure you rename the file so that it contains your keywords.
For example, if you have a file named DSC103.jpg, you would rename it to mykeyword.jpg.

Provide alt text

Once you upload your image, be sure that you don’t leave the ‘Alternate Text’ field empty.  Screen readers read this text to users to describe the content of an image. Since a search engine can’t read the contents of an image, they depend on this text to get a better understanding of what the image is about.  Make sure you provide a relevant description, but also be sure to include your keywords. Setting WordPress Alt Text

If you were to set an image as a link, the alt text is considered the anchor text for the link.

Provide context

Google and other search engines don’t just depend on the file name and alt text to determine what an image is about.  If that were the case, we would see a lot of irrelevant images in Google Image Search because not everyone would be entirely truthful about the contents of an image.  Because of this, it is important that your images are also surrounded by content that reinforces the file name and alt text that you have set.

Optimize the page

One of the things you will find is that images always rank better when the page in general ranks better.  So you are off to a great start using WordPress, but there are still a few things you will want to consider:

  1. Make sure you use your keywords in the page title
    By default, WordPress takes the title you set for the page and uses it as the title tag in the HTML and as the heading on the page.  The important thing is that the HTML title tag reflects your keywords.  So if you are using a WordPress SEO plugin (I recommend Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin), be sure that the SEO title reflects your keywords even if the heading on the page is different.
  2. Create a slug that uses your keywords
    WordPress allows you to edit the slug that is used in your URL for the page.  You can change it just below where you put the page title.  The slug is not set until you save the post and will match the page title on initial save.  It is a good idea to remove words like ‘and’, ‘the’ and the like from the slug and to be sure that you have used your keywords.Setting the Slug in WordPress
  3. Link to your page with anchor text that matches your keywords
    This is basically link building, which can be done internally as well as externally.  There is no difference between the two outside of the fact that internal link building is done within the context of your site, whereas external link building is done on other sites.  The idea is that the more links to a page, the more important it is and the more likely Google and the other search engines will take note of it.

    Since you are in complete control of the links on your site, this is the easiest place to start.  Just find another page on your site where you mention your target keyword for the current page.  If it doesn’t exist, see if you can work it into the content of a page somewhere.  Next, just highlight that text in your editor and create a link to the page you are optimizing.

    Categories and tags within WordPress can also be a great way to build internal links, but keep in mind that they are for classifying information… assigning a tag to a single post is useless.  My rule of thumb: Don’t create categories or tags if you don’t plan to have at least 10 posts that are assigned to it.

Online Sales Leads

Online Sales Leads

Is your business struggling to generate online sales leads? It is common knowledge that generating sales leads online can be more effective than traditional methods, not to mention more cost-effective. Given the current economy, businesses are looking to the internet in order to cut marketing costs.  We are going to take a look at different methods of lead generation and how your company might use them.

Online Sales Leads

Lead Generating Traffic Sources

In order to maximize sales leads, you have to maximize the traffic coming in to your website and landing pages.  There are three ways to generate traffic online:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Optimizing your web pages so that your potential clients will find you when they search for your products or services.
  • Paid Advertising – Paying to have your ad appear in the sponsored listings in the search engines, or in a particular location on a selected website.
  • Social Media – Utilizing large web communities to generate interest and traffic for your products or services.
  • Affiliate Marketing – Partnering with like minded sites to offer each others products or services.

Depending on your business and what stage of development it is in, you will utilize these methods differently.  The key takeaway here is to utilize all three methods to some degree.  Don’t limit your ability to reach new clients by focusing all your efforts on one method.

Lead Capture Methods

Once you are generating some quality traffic, you will want to be sure that you don’t miss out on capturing as many leads as possible.  It is important to understand your target audience and their purchasing behavior.  Here are some ways you can keep in touch with potential clients at different levels:

  • Facebook Like Button – Including the ‘Like’ button on most pages of your site will allow visitors to ‘Like’ the content that they find helpful or amusing on your site.  When a visitor clicks on the ‘Like’ button, they automatically become a fan of your business and will receive updates that you send out through your Facebook page.  This is a great way to connect with people who are only on your site for a short time, or only visit a single page.
  • Opt-in List – Not everyone is going to buy on their first visit, but that doesn’t mean they won’t.  Give visitors the opportunity to receive quality content on a regular basis through e-mail.  You will offer some sort of upfront incentive for opting in and will occasionally offer your products or services in your e-mails.
  • Landing Page – Similar to the opt-in list, a landing page is specifically designed to promote a particular product or service.  When a visitor fills out their information, they have the opportunity to opt-in to your list, but may also be requesting a quote or some other type of follow up.
  • Registration – Having a site where users register to have access to a free service or a niche community is a great way to get visitors involved and to be able to make some quality connections.
  • Contact Information – Some businesses forget about this one altogether and don’t include their contact information in an easy-to-find location on the website.  If someone wants to use a more traditional means of contacting you, don’t limit them!

It is important to avoid surprises when a visitor comes to your site through any given medium.  If a visitor doesn’t think your content is relevant to what they are looking for, they will leave quickly and your conversion rate will suffer.

Lead Generation Examples

Here are a couple of scenarios that will help you better understand how to utilize these advertising mediums to generate leads online:

Brand New Local Restaurant – Knowing that it can take a minimum of six months to generate adequate organic search traffic and that SEO is more cost effective than paid advertising in the long haul, you hire an SEO expert right away.   You claim your local business listings with the major search engines so that local searchers can find you easier.  In the meantime, you utilize Google AdWords to not only generate immediate traffic, but also to test out your organic SEO keywords in the process.  As your business generates more and more organic search traffic, you rely on paid advertising less and less.  However, you don’t eliminate it altogether because you have realized that running PPC campaigns alongside your SEO campaigns creates some great synergy.  Your primary landing page encourages visitors to sign up for your e-mail list so they can receive special promotions and a free birthday meal.  Thanks to technology, you have automated your entire annual e-mail campaign and are able to discover what social networks your members are in and can connect with them on their favorite networks.  In order to promote your business to people who happen to be nearby, you utilize FourSquare.  You also become active on Yelp, encouraging those that have been to your restaurant to rate their experience.

Independent Consultant – As a consultant, you show off your knowledge through a blog, which is part of the main website.  This blog is great for generating organic search traffic, because you carefully optimize each post and post often.  Because your are a smart consultant, you are already using PPC, but are not over-reliant on this method.  You have also paid to have some banner and video ads on some of the top sites related to your industry.  LinkedIn is a great social media tool for you because it is a professional network that facilitates some great business to business connections.  As an added bonus, you frequently answers questions related to the industry on LinkedIn and other related forums, and you run a couple of Meetup groups for people interested in your specialty.  Affiliate marketing can come into play here as you team up with other consultants that have complimentary skill sets to your own.  You don’t actually sell any products online, so your landing pages focus around proprietary research and tools that you have created.  Once visitors opt-in for your email list, they are automatically sent a weekly e-mail containing your latest blog posts.  You also highlight a particular service each month and offer your e-mail list members a special discount.  All of your lead capture forms automatically feed the captured information into Sugar, your customer relationship management (CRM) tool.

Online Digital Camera Store – Let’s assume this business targets professional photographers who are looking for high-end digital equipment.  Your efforts are focused around SEO and PPC keywords related to your most profitable brands and products, because you understand that people searching for specific products are usually considering buying it.  The website itself is more than just an e-commerce store, but a social network within itself.  Because your business values repeat customers, you have forums where users can discuss the latest trends in photography.  Every month, you hold a contest where the best submitted photo wins the latest high-tech gear.  Most of your customers are quite satisfied not only to have found quality equipment, but also a great community.  Your community extends beyond just your site, in the form of a Facebook Page, a YouTube channel sporting some very helpful videos and a Flickr account that grabs the attention of anyone who sees it.  Your site also promotes the re-chargeable batteries of another site, which in turn promotes your high-end cameras.  Since your best sales come from active members of your community, your landing pages focus on having new visitors join the community.

New SEO Tool Just Released

As of today, we have just released our first of many SEO tools to come. The Meta Tag Checker Tool helps you analyze how well you are using SEO related tags on a given web page.

If you have ever wondered how you should be using the following elements on your webpages, you should check out our new tool:

  • HTTP Status
  • Page Title
  • Canonical Link
  • Meta description tag
  • Meta keywords tag
  • Meta robots tag

Over time, we will be improving the information that this tool returns, but I think we are off to a great start!  If you have any issues with it or have any feature requests, let us know by commenting on this post.

301 Redirect

Redirect Old Domain to New Domain via .htaccess

When you migrate a site from one domain to another, it is very important that you don’t break all the links that you built to your old domain. Proper redirection of all the pages on the old domain to the same location on the new domain will ensure that visitors to the old domain will end up in the right place.  A failure to redirect will result in a loss of visitors as well as search engine rankings.

Continue reading Redirect Old Domain to New Domain via .htaccess

How Google Sees Your Site

Ever wondered exactly what Google can and can’t see on your website?  Well, we are actually referring to what ‘Googlebot’ can see.  Googlebot is Google’s web crawler.

What Google Can’t See

  • Videos – While great for human users, search engines really can’t see the content of your videos.
  • Images – They really spruce up a site, but Google can’t see what is in your images either.
  • Flash – Google can see some Flash, but it is best used very sparingly

What Google Can See

  • Text – Any text that you can highlight with your cursor is visible to Google.
  • Links – Any text or image links can be seen.  Text links are best for SEO, but if you must use images, take a look at the last item on this list.
  • HTML – Any text markup on your site is also visible to the search engines.  This can include page title tags, description tags, author and copyright tags, keywords and more.
  • Content around videos and images – While Google can’t really make out image or video content, but Googlebot can see what is in close proximity.  Google uses the context of the content to determine what it is about.
  • Image ALT attributes – The ALT tag is an optional attribute for the text markup of an image.  In other words, ALT stands for ‘Alternate Description’ and is intended to be show if an image could not be loaded.  You want to be sure any images containing text have a matching ALT attribute, or any images without text are well described.

Still not sure what Google can see on your site? See your site through Googlebot’s eyes

Local Business Search Marketing

All too often, I talk to small businesses that are trying to target their local market and want to do search engine optimization.  They try to target high volume search terms such as ‘lawn care’ or ‘electricians’.  If you are trying to reach your local area through online marketing, there are some simple things that you can do to greatly improve your results… Continue reading Local Business Search Marketing

How Search Engines Work

Search Engine Optimization is the art of taking a website and helping search engines, such as Google, realize the importance and relevance of the site for specific search terms. Search engines utilize automated software to find, read, record, rank and return web pages.

Let’s see how search engines work so we can better understand optimization:

  • Find – A search engine can’t return any results if it doesn’t know what’s out there on the web. Search engines use software that crawls the web looking for new pages by following links from known pages or by visiting pages that were submitted directly to the search engine. It is important to have a good internal linking structure on your site and to submit sitemaps to the search engines so that all of your pages will be found.
  • Read – Once a search engine finds a page it attempts to read it. A web crawler can read any text or HTML code on a page, but it cannot read any images, audio or video. For this reason it is important to avoid using images with text in them or building your entire site using Flash.
  • Record – Once a search engine has read a web page, it decides whether or not to record, or index, the information it has discovered. Typically, the search engine will keep a record of all the content on the page and will come back and update the information the next time the web crawler comes along. Sometimes only the URL is recorded or the page is not indexed at all.
  • Rank – Ranking is what makes a search engine useful. The search engines use software that is designed to evaluate web pages much like a human would. Since computers don’t really work like humans, the software uses algorithms to evaluate key factors that indicate the relevance, importance and popularity of a web page. For example, the software reads the page title, which is located the HTML title tag in the page’s source code, and checks to see if the keywords you are searching for are in it. If so, this is a strong indicator that the page is relevant for your search terms. The software also looks at incoming links as ‘votes’ for a web page, so the more links a page has the more likely it is to have important information that would be useful.
  • Return – This is the last stage of the process where you actually see the list of web pages related to the search terms you entered. Believe it or not, just because your web site normally ranks on the first page for a specific term, it doesn’t mean that it will always be returned on the first page. There are many factors that determine what pages appear first, including the location of the computer the search was performed on, which data center the request ran through, and whether the user was logged in.