5 Ways to Optimize Your Twitter Presence

[tweetmeme]With all the recent outcry over Facebook’s latest changes, it might be time for you to give Twitter another look. Twitter can be a key ingredient to your online success as a marketing tool and because of the impact it has on social search.

When you share great content, conduct contests, and leverage offline promotional efforts through Twitter, you not only increase traffic to your website, but you send valuable signals to search engines. Here are a few ways to make sure your tweets are reaching your target audience.

Optimize Your Twitter Profile and Tweets

1. Create a username – While it’s best practice to use your own name for your Twitter username, that may not be possible if someone else is already using it. An alternative strategy is to combine your name with a keyword related to your business, or use a keyword in place of your name. My primary Twitter username is @GloriaRand. But I have another Twitter account called @GreenSEOCopy to promote myself as a SEO copywriter for the green products niche.

2. Bio section – Use keywords in your bio to help you connect with your target audience. You only have 160 characters to convey your business and your personality, so make it concise!

3. Use keywords in your tweets – This may seem like a no-brainer, but few companies develop a keyword strategy for their tweets, even though they do it for their business websites.

4. Ask for retweets – Search engines watch to see what content spreads through social media, because that’s often a strong measure of credibility for the web page linked to within the tweet. If your keyword-rich tweets get retweeted, you’re getting the best bang for your SEO buck! The key to getting retweets is to ask for them. Hubspot’s Dan Zarella found that when you ask your followers to retweet the message, you’ll get 4x more retweets:

5. Write awesome blog post titles – Sharing your blog articles on Twitter provides interesting content for your followers. Take time to come up with compelling, keyword-rich titles for your blog articles to spark interest among your Twitter followers. If you share great content, you’re sure to see a boost in traffic from Twitter and the search engines.

If you’d like to learn how to leverage Twitter’s 100 million active users to improve your organization’s marketing results, sign up for my free webinar: Twitter Tactics to Grow Your Business on Thursday, Sept. 29 at noon EDT.

During this brief session, you’ll learn how to:

* Find the right people to follow and attract new followers
* Use Twitter for business, marketing, lead generation, PR, and customer service
* Understand Twitter’s role in social search
* Track and analyze your campaigns

Seats are limited. Register today. https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/378979422


My Top 5 Free Keyword Research Tools

[tweetmeme]SEO By Gloria Rand

Getting your website, blog or social media posts found online depends on implementing a successful search engine optimization strategy. And the first step in launching any SEO program starts with keyword research.

Once you come up with a list of words that you think people are using to search for your product or service, don’t just start writing copy with those words. What you think are effective words and what other people are actually using to search may be quite different. So it pays to double check your words with some online keyword tools. You may find some alternative keywords and long-tail search phrases that will be more effective in reaching your target audience online.

Here are a few of my favorite resources for keyword research:

Free Keyword Research Tools

1. Google AdWords

Even though Google AdWords is meant to be a resource for pay-per-click ads, you can still search for words that can be used to help your site rank organically. Simply type in a keyword or a URL of your own website or a competitor’s site, and Google will give you 100 related keywords and phrases to choose from. You can export all of these words into a CSV file. Or if the results include too many keywords or phrases that are not related to your query, choose the ones you do like, and select the “more like this” option to get additional words to choose from.

2. Wordtracker’s Keyword Suggestion Tool

Unlike Google AdWords, this search tool gives you only ten results for free. While Wordtracker is an excellent resource for long tail keywords, you have to pay to take full advantage of the service. Here is an example of the results Wordtracker provided for the phrase “business networking groups”:
Wordtracker free keyword tool results

You can sign up for a free seven day trial, which will give you 100 results for each query. After that, the service costs $69 a month and delivers up to 2,000 keywords per search. You can also measure the level of competition for any keyword in Wordtracker’s database and check KEI or the Keyword Effectiveness Index to hone in on words with high traffic and low competition.

3. KeywordDiscovery.com – As with Wordtracker, you’ll have to sign up for a free trial account to use Keyword Discovery’s service. The free version allows you to do 50 searches per day, but you only get 10 results each time. Those results include trends, but you can’t check domains.

Keyword Discovery sample results

When you click on “analyze,” Keyword Discovery gives you the percentage of searches that generated a click on one of the search results. if you subscribe for their basic plan at $69.95 a month, you get full access to all the keyword databases. You can do 1,500 searches per day. Up to 1,000 results will be displayed, including three domain research results.

4. SEOBook.com – Unlike Wordtracker & KeywordDiscovery, SEOBook.com provides a free account that lasts indefinitely. (I’ve been using it for over 2 years.) Their keyword results are powered by Wordtracker.com but this tool also delivers results from Google, Yahoo, Bing, Google Trends, Quintura, Compete, Keyword Discovery & Wordstream.

SEO Book Keyword results

Of course, as with the other tools above, you get much more functionality if you sign up for SEOBook’s paid membership. This service is the most expensive by far at $300/month. But it includes over 100 training modules covering keyword research, pay per click marketing, site optimization; member only training videos; and much more. There’s no contract, and you can cancel at any time.

5. SEMRush.com – As a free keyword research tool, SEMRush is pretty robust. As a registered user, you will get more opportunities than unregistered, but you are limited to 10 results per request, 10 queries per day. The good news is that those results include ad volume, CPC (cost per click), competition of advertisers for that term, number of search results for that query on Google, and the volume of searches over the last 12 months.

You can also see a list of websites that delivered results for a particular search term. When you click on one of those sites, you’ll be able to see that site’s related keywords – giving you some new keyword possibilities to consider.

Another useful feature, especially if you write pay-per-click ads, is the ability to see which websites bought ads for the search term. You can even click on the Ad icon to see the copy with the search term in it:

Keyword example

In the interest of full disclosure, SEMRush allowed me to use their professional account for free for the last few weeks so that I could do a full test-drive of their capabilities. As someone who has been getting along with ten results at a time from Wordtracker or Keyword Discovery, and 100 more keywords from Google, I have to tell you that SEMRush has spoiled me.

Being able to access thousands of keywords at a time – not only from my search term, but to check those of competing websites has been terrific. Paying $69.95 a month for the ability to export up to 10,000 results per domain into a CSV or Excel file is a good deal, if you ask me. And the fact that you can perform up to 3,000 queries per day is another bonus. Plus, SEMRush doesn’t generate random keywords, unlike the other sites do. Instead, the company provides a statistical analysis of the occurrence of keywords in its results. And, a SEMRush spokesperson pointed out to me that theirs is the only tool to include valuable data relative to a keyword’s value/profitability – another good point in their favor.

Which keyword tool is your favorite? Please comment below!


SEO in a Minute: Backlinks

[tweetmeme]This week’s SEO in a Minute tip focuses on backlinks and their importance in search engine ranking.

I’m Gloria Rand with today’s S-E-O in a Minute tip.

Every business owner who has a website wants it to be on page one of Google. But wanting it to be there… and getting it there are two very different things. In earlier videos, I’ve talked about the importance of putting keywords into meta tag titles and descriptions when you create a website. There’s another important element that Google and Bing look at: back links.

To put it simply: a backlink is a link to your website that resides on another website. The more back links you have, the more credibility Google gives your website, resulting in a higher ranking. BUT… this is very important. It’s the quality of the backlink that counts!!! You need backlinks from websites that relate to the content of your website. If you sell cat toys for instance, it wouldn’t make sense to have a backlink from a website that sells farm equipment. The two products aren’t related – and if you had that type of backlink – Google would penalize you for it. However, if you have a Facebook page for your business that includes a link to your website – that’s a good backlink! I’ll talk more about how social networking sites influence your search engine rankings later.

In the meantime, for more SEO tips, you can visit my blog at gloriarand.wordpress.com.


Google Social Search +1: The “Uncola” of Social Media

[tweetmeme]I know I’m dating myself, but do you remember the old 7Up ads that touted the soft drink as the “uncola” so it could compete with Coke & Pepsi? I think Google is the social media version of 7Up.

The search engine giant last week unveiled its new +1 recommendation service – a move that truly makes search social. Much like the ubiquitous Facebook “like” button, Google users can now recommend a search result they like by clicking on a “+1” icon.

Google claims the beauty of +1s is their relevance, “…you get the right recommendations (because they come from people who matter to you), at the right time (when you are actually looking for information about that topic) and in the right format (your search results).”

Watch the video for more details:

It’s clear to me that Google is tired of everyone clicking the Facebook “like” button and wants to be known as the +1 brand!

But +1? Really? Is that the best name they could come up with? I know Facebook also uses a “thumbs up” icon and “Digg” has been taken by the social news website of the same name. Twitter uses a “star” to indicate favorite tweets, so maybe a simple heart icon would have worked.

Regardless, +1 is the next phase of Google’s Social Search strategy that it began several months ago, where search results would feature photo icons of people who shared a link. I’ve just started seeing these recommendations pop up in my own online searches (when I’m logged into my Google account):

So what does all this mean for businesses? From an SEO standpoint, it’s clear that social media’s impact is here to stay! Whether you’re a product or service provider, you should monitor what your customers are saying about you, because those results are going to be displayed on Google – for better or worse.

What do you think of Google’s +1? Will it make an impact on your buying decisions? Or will it just be a passing phase? Please share your comments below.


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Why Quality Trumps Quantity for Blog Content

[tweetmeme]One of the challenges of writing a blog is coming up with new article ideas. During a recent webinar I conducted on blogging for business, someone asked whether it was better to write their own blog or use articles from the Internet.

In a word, my answer is “No.”

I say that especially because of Google’s crackdown on so-called “content farms” during its recent algorithm update. Here is an excerpt from Google’s Blog about why it changed the algorithm:

“This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.”

Write Original Blog Content

As you can see, it’s more important than ever to write good blog content that is original and that provides excellent value to your readers. While it may seem nearly impossible to come up with an original idea — check out the latest film remakes in Hollywood, for example — at the very least, you should put your own spin on a given subject. As Google said, if you only republish existing articles found online that content could be considered “low-quality,” and your blog would suffer in the search rankings as a result.

How do you come up with fresh content? I recently posted an article called “42 Blog Post Ideas for Building Your Business” that can give you a lot of ideas! That list has worked for me, when I get stuck. You can also keep up with the news in your industry and write opinion articles about the latest happenings. Set up a Google alert for relevant keywords in your business and use the articles that the search turns up for ideas.

If you still need help writing blog articles, I’ll be happy to help! Just send me a message using the “Contact Me” form on this blog.


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Why Your Website Needs a Headline – Not a Welcome Sign


How many times have you searched for a company on Google and when you visited their website, the home page headline simply said, “Welcome”?

I see this time and time again online. And while “Welcome” is a nice sentiment, that precious real estate would serve your prospects better if it featured a headline, similar to what you would use in a direct mail advertisement for your product or service.

Why is this important?

Headlines Help Convince Website Visitors to Buy

According to author, copywriter, public speaker and direct marketing expert Ted Nicholas, 73% of all buying decisions are made at the point of the headline. That makes the headline the most important element in any promotion, online or off. Nicholson spoke yesterday at AWAI’s Fast Track to Copywriting Success Bootcamp, which I’m attending this week. He told the audience of copywriters that a headline has 5 major responsibilities:

1. Attracts attention
2. Communicates the strongest benefit
3. Appeals to a prospect’s self-interest
4. Sets the tone for the offer
5. Selects the right audience

Now that first point – attracts attention – is especially important online, since you only have about 5 seconds to grab someone’s attention. If your prospect doesn’t see right away why they should do business with you, they’re going to hit the back button and find someone else.

But there’s another reason why your website needs a proper headline, and not a “Welcome” sign.

Headlines Help Your Website’s Search Engine Ranking

When a search engine “spider” crawls through your website, it is looking for certain elements such as keywords and header tags. If you put keywords into your headline and include those words in a header tag or H1 tag, the “spider” will see that information, and reward you with a higher ranking on the search engine results page or SERP.

A keyword-rich headline, therefore, can help your website be found by a prospect AND help convince that prospect to do business with you. And isn’t that why you have a website in the first place?

If you’d like to replace the “welcome” sign on your website’s home page, email gloria@gloriarand.com today for a free SEO copywriting estimate.

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Google Rich Snippets Branching Out Across SERPs

Looks like Google’s Rich Snippets have expanded beyond product reviews and people. Google introduced Rich Snippets as a way to “give users convenient summary information about their search results at a glance.”

Rich Snippets for Long-Tail Keyword Searches

Now, rich snippets are popping up all over the place, especially when you do long-tail keyword searches. I discovered this yesterday, while doing keyword research for one of my clients. Instead of seeing a two sentence snippet that might have come directly from the Description Meta Tag for a particular web page, Google pulled sentence fragments that matched my long-tail search: event planning + trade shows + conferences + receptions

Here’s the cached page from Google with the keywords highlighted:


Long-tail Keyword Phrases in Web Content

So, what does this mean for SEO? Unscrupulous webmasters may think it’s time to go back to keyword spamming. But a more effective strategy will be to continue writing relevant description meta tags, AND include long-tail keyword phrases in your copy in a way that will make sense and be relevant to your audience.

Need help optimizing your website for Google? Send me an email with your request to: gloria@gloriarand.com.

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4 Reasons Why It’s Important to Have Good Blog Titles


If you want to make money blogging, it’s crucial that you have good blog titles.  Here are four reasons why:

First Impression – The blog title is the first chance you have to make an impression on your reader.  If your title can’t capture someone’s interest within a few seconds, then you’ve lost a reader, and a potential client.

Search Engine & Syndication – Blog titles are going to show up in the search engines and syndication sites. It’s important to have relevant keywords in your title to get good ranking, which will in turn, attract readers.

Most People Read Headlines – Eight out of ten people read headline copy, but only two out of the ten will read the rest.  A compelling title will entice those two people to continue reading the rest of your blog.

Numbers Bring More Traffic – If you are blogging for web site traffic, make sure you put a number if your headline.  Posts with numbers in the headlines get 3 to 8 times more traffic than those without, and they get more referrals from sites like Digg and Stumbleupon.

Keep these blogging tips in mind the next time you sit down to write a post. Do some keyword research on your topic, and think carefully before you write your title. Consider the 4 U’s of copywriting: Is my headline unique? urgent? useful? and ultra-specific? If so, you’ve got a great chance at getting someone to read your blog headline, and more importantly, your entire blog post.