Does Blogging Help with SEO
    Does Blogging Help with SEO?

    Making sure that your company website is optimized for search engines is important, which is why having a significant amount of content that makes your page a worthwhile visit for readers is an absolute must.  Creating content on an ongoing basis may seem like a fundamental task when it comes to SEO, but you would be amazed how many sites neglect this aspect of digital marketing. You can supercharge your rankings for long-tail phrases and support your main keywords by regularly uploading fresh content to your blog. Here’s how blogging supports your SEO initiatives.

    Blogging provides fresh content

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    Common SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Building a New Website
    Common SEO Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Building a New Website

    For the uninitiated, dabbling in the dark art of SEO, better known as Search Engine Optimization, can be a daunting and intimidating task. If you’re unsure of how to navigate the digital realm, don’t let hubris be your downfall and attempt to implement tactics that will only result in search engines rejecting your website. If the words “search engine optimization” seem like sorcery to you, it’s better to hand the keys to your site to digital marketing professionals and agencies. However, if you’re on a limited budget, this guide can be a handy resource on what NOT to do – I’ll keep what you SHOULD do for another time. 😉

    Not Developing a Keyword Strategy

    Believe it or not, the whole point of search engine optimization is to be found. If you end up building a new website or have one made for you without thinking about how your target audience is going to come across your site naturally via search engines, then you may want to consider having your business owner card revoked. Ouf – I’m sorry, that’s a little harsh, but if you’re going to invest your own money into marketing your business, you need to do it correctly and not screw up during your first at-bat (a baseball reference, btw).

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    Five Tips on How to Improve SEO
    Five Tips on How to Improve SEO

    Developing a presence in competitive niches has never been easier for companies with limited resources. For the uninitiated, however, search engine marketing may seem like a daunting endeavour. It takes quite a bit of experience and experimentation to master SEO techniques that provide tangible results. Unless you’re an inveterate gambler and enjoy playing the odds, you’re unlikely to find success with agencies and contractors that promise results overnight. While the allure of empty promises does seem enticing, there’s a lot more to search engine optimization that requires an investment of both time and resources. Here are some tips on how to improve your SEO efforts, which I have enhanced with the usage of Avengers-related GIFs because I cannot contain my excitement about the new film coming out this month.

    Thor is happy to learn about SEO.
    “YES” is right, Thor.

    1. Master Keyword Research

    Keyword research may seem like a fundamental element when it comes to search engine optimization, but the foundation of any SEO campaign should start with a thorough dive into competitive and content research. Investigating search marketing trends and identifying questions users are asking on a monthly basis can help you unearth opportunities that you can exploit to capture organic traffic. However, be strategic when it comes to analyzing keywords based on search volume. Relevancy is critical when selecting your main keywords to optimize for every page on your website. For example, a men’s fashion brand selling dress shirts should focus its efforts on optimizing content around “clothing.” Not only is the term “clothing” completely ambiguous with regards to the gender and type of clothing, but it also will likely not provide the desired ROI for the required investment into optimizing for that keyword. Instead, keywords such as “men’s dress shirts” and “luxury dress shirts for men” are more applicable. (more…)

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    An Examination of Google's Broad Core Algorithm Update [March 2018]
    An Examination of Google’s Broad Core Algorithm Update [March 2018]

    While Google regularly releases core algorithm updates on a daily basis, it seems like a recent update is making waves around the web. In a Twitter update published on Monday, Google did confirm that a broad core algorithm update had been rolled out the previous week:

    What is involved in a Broad Core Algorithm Update?

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    The Rise of Voice Search and Answer Engine Optimization
    The Rise of Voice Search and Answer Engine Optimization

    Fifty years ago, the idea of talking to a technological device seemed futuristic. Star Trek portrayed characters talking using something called a communicator, which served as a precursor to the current devices that occupy the 21st-century market. Nowadays, the practice of seeking out answers by communicating with a mobile phone, or even a home assistant such as Alexa, Siri, Cortana, or Google is widely accepted and common.

    What has ignited the rise of voice search? The advancement of technology over the past 15 years is just remarkable. Back in the day, brick phones and subsequently flip phones were rather commonplace, lacking the technology that current mobile devices contain today.

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    Five Important SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2018
    Five Important SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2018

    As we close the curtain on 2017, we can look forward to the following SEO trends becoming more popular in 2018.

    #1 Voice Search

    Let’s commence with the most obvious trend that will dominate 2018: voice search. An estimated 55% of teenagers and 40% of adults are using voice search on a daily basis and usage will only continue increasing as digital assistants become more sophisticated. The simplicity of voice search gives users the ability to find content and receive answers to questions without having to unlock their phones. Not only is voice search much easier than typing out queries, but the error rate continues to diminish as usage increases.

    Voice Search
    I wish I had this much fun talking to Siri. I guess I’m not as entertaining as this Shutterstock model.

    What does this mean for search strategists? I bet you’re saying “Isn’t voice search the same as seeking out information by typing it out?” I hate to burst your bubble, but voice search isn’t the same as manually typing out text. Users don’t use voice search the same way they use text search. Regular searching habits, especially from mobile devices, often require cat-like agility, which means truncating phrases to the bare minimum. For example, if you’re interested in finding out what the weather is in Montreal, you might write out “weather Montreal” to save time. However, with voice search, the average user will use a conversational tone and likely ask a digital assistant “What is the weather like in Montreal today?” Semantic search is now more important than ever with the evolution of voice search, which means you need to continue to work on implementing highly informative and keyword-rich content that search engines can process easily. (more…)

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    18 Effective Ways to Market Your Business Online
    18 Effective Ways to Market Your Business Online

    Navigating the digital environment can be an arduous task for small businesses, especially for companies that have been reliant on traditional marketing tactics. While business classes teach us that there are five main promotional activities in the communications mix – advertising, direct response marketing, sales promotions, personal selling, and public relations – online marketing has quickly evolved into a digital promotional mix on its own.

    While traditional marketing practices have certain nuances and skill requirements, online marketing has become a massive endeavor for businesses, where an increasing amount of skill sets are needed to manage campaigns on a large scale successfully. Technical and coding prowess, creative design, astute analytics skills, and copywriting are only a few of the main factors to be considered when deploying promotional activities on the internet. The evolution of social media platforms, periodic algorithm adjustments from search engines, and conception of online advertising exchanges have given digital marketers an arsenal unlike anything that has been seen before in advertising.

    However, despite all of the tools readily available at everyone’s disposal, many businesses have been slow in adopting digital marketing practices to capture traffic online. Contrary to popular belief, just creating a website will not lead to hundreds of users hitting your site every day. Whether it’s through social media marketing, search engine optimization, or media buying, you need to develop trust with users and search engines alike to even get the tiniest slice of traffic available on the web.

    Before venturing into digital marketing, there are some things a small business must consider before launching any campaigns, which may include:

    • What is my budget for online marketing? –> Depending on how much you’re willing to invest into digital marketing, the outcomes can either be substantial or minuscule. While we don’t want to hang onto the old saying “to make money, you have to spend money,” you will need to invest a good amount of resources, labor or otherwise, into propelling your brand into the spotlight.
    • What are my objectives? –> While establishing your goals may seem elementary, this is where a lot of small businesses make mistakes with digital marketing. Although fancy metrics such as likes, shares, and views illustrate one’s popularity, they do not always translate into leads and sales.
    • Who is my niche audience? –> Better understanding who you want to reach with online marketing will make it easier to develop a strategic plan of action. Media buying platforms, in particular, offer a wide array of targeting options that can help you pinpoint the people most likely to become a customer.
    • What is my competitive advantage? –> Once again, this may seem like a fundamental element in the planning process, but it can be quite easy to forget if you’re building a new business from scratch. It’s important to define the reason why people should consider your company over a myriad of competitors, especially if what you’re selling isn’t revolutionary or truly distinct from others. Make light of the benefits you provide over competitors and highlight it within your marketing initiatives.

    Now that we’ve gone through the preamble, it’s important to know the different tactics and channels that can be employed to promote your brand in a positive light and capture relevant traffic. Here is a list of all the ways you can market your business online: (more…)

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    Google to Start Rolling out Mobile-First Index Next Year
    Google to Start Rolling out Mobile-First Index Next Year

    After months of speculation, it looks like the mobile-first index will finally be rolled out sometime over the course of the next year. According to John Mueller in a recent Google hangout, it seems like Google will start rolling out the mobile-first index to websites that have already prepped for the update.

    While the official date of the rollout is still shrouded in mystery, Mueller stated that webmasters would not be notified of when the update happens. From a tracking perspective, this will make it rather difficult for webmasters and digital marketing analysts alike to pinpoint a specific date as to when the change occurred.

    However, the ambiguity will be useful in keeping webmasters on their toes to make sure that they are putting all efforts into optimizing their websites for mobile devices. However, this presents an advantage for sites that are already optimized for mobile devices, as they will be given priority to realize the benefits of a mobile-first index ahead of websites that are not up to code.

    What are the advantages of a mobile-first index?

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    How to Use Yelp for Your Local Marketing Campaigns
    How to Use Yelp for Your Local Marketing Campaigns

    If you’re not ‘Yelping’ yet, it might be time to jump on the bandwagon.

    According to a brand new consumer survey prepared by Nielsen, it seems like Yelp is quickly becoming a powerful vehicle for local marketing campaigns. In case you have no idea what we’re talking about, Yelp is a popular website that features user reviews for local businesses and restaurants. Of the 2,000 U.S. adults surveyed, 92% indicated that they made a purchase after visiting the site.

    Powerful Yelp Statistics
    Those are some impressive statistics….

    Other compelling statistics extracted from the report include:

    • 74% of consumers actively seeking information about a local business will peruse online review websites on a monthly basis.
    • Yelp was the consensus favourite among survey respondents when it comes to local review websites.
    • 79% of Yelp users are actively looking for local establishments that they can visit more than once.
    • 55% of users will order food for pickup or delivery from local restaurants on Yelp after using the platform to find recommendations.

    While these statistics are rather glowing in Yelp’s favour, one must exercise caution and take this report with a grain of salt, because the study was commissioned by Yelp. However, there’s no denying these review-type websites are essential ingredients in any digital marketing initiative for local businesses. Marketing professionals are quick to exhaust advertising budgets on Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, but when it comes to identifying niche platforms that can yield optimal results, Yelp is often ignored or severely underutilized.

    How Can You Use Yelp for Local Marketing?

    If you’re a business owner and haven’t started using Yelp yet, here are some handy tips on how to effectively utilize the website to achieve your marketing objectives.

    1. Claim Your Listing

    As with any local marketing initiative, you must be proactive and claim your business listing or create a new profile from scratch. If you do not maintain control over your listing, issues can arise in the long-run, especially if inaccurate information is displayed on the public profile. Make an effort to clean up your business’ information on Yelp and optimize it for your niche audience. If you’re in the restaurant industry, chances are you’re heavily dependent upon public reviews and how your company is represented on this specific platform.

    2. Optimize Your Business Information

    This may seem pretty obvious, but companies tend to make the simple mistake of inputting inconsistent information on local listings around the web. When it comes to local SEO, search engines are actively scanning your profiles to ensure the name, address, and phone number are consistent across all platforms. Also, make sure to update your listing whenever updates arise. For example, if you alter your hours of operation, be sure to reflect that on your Yelp listing. Otherwise, you may receive harsh criticisms and acerbic feedback from dissatisfied users, making your business look bad in the public eye.

    3. Engage with Users and Reply to Customer Reviews

    As with all other platforms in the digital marketing environment, popularity plays a significant role with regards to how search results are determined. Listings that garner the most positive feedback and reviews will tend to rank well for relevant searches. However, businesses that have earned a negative reputation are likely to be buried within search results, resulting in little-to-no visibility for pertinent searches. Managing reviews on Yelp can be a burdensome activity on its own, and if you’re new to the platform, it may be difficult to determine where you need to begin. Listing managers have the ability to respond to a review either publicly or privately, which must be determined on a review-by-review basis. Adding a public comment to positive reviews indicates that your business values user feedback. Negative reviews, on the other hand, require far more delicate treatment and can snowball into a disaster if not attended to properly. If users are caustic and flagrantly bash your business, use the private messaging feature to deal with individual complaints. However, if misleading or inaccurate comments are posted, feel free to respond publicly to clear up any misunderstandings.

    4. Upload Photos to Your Profile

    If an image can say 1,000 words, then 20 photos must represent 20,000 words about your business. There’s no better storytelling than that, right?

    When users are seeking out information on Yelp, they want to get an idea of what to expect should they visit your businesses. In the restaurant industry, photos and videos can help convert users because you are giving them a visual representation of appetizing meals. Visual assets can also assist businesses in the hospitality industry to paint an image of the idyllic vacation for intrigued users. Regardless of your target audience, take advantage of the photo upload feature for businesses to establish legitimacy with users and earn their trust. While past studies revealed that users will spend more time on average browsing listings containing photos, conventional wisdom should indicate that more multimedia assets available within your listing equals more opportunities to keep users engaged.

    5. Promote Special Offers & Deals

    How does Yelp monetize its platform? This is one of two methods in which the local marketing platform makes money. The Deals and Gift Certificates program allows businesses to promote special offers to users on Yelp. For a local restaurant, this could be a special voucher for a meal or a gift certificate to be used at a later date. While there are no upfront costs, Yelp will collect 30% of money spent on deals and 10% on gift certificates, making it an expensive, but potentially worthwhile, marketing endeavor.

    6. Advertise on Yelp

    Last but not least, Yelp’s advertising platform is the second way the business monetizes its traffic. The targeted local advertising solutions available within the platform can help propel your listing to the top of search results and ensure your brand name is shown on top competitor listings, giving you an opportunity to divert traffic away from other businesses. While feedback is certainly mixed with regards to the effectiveness of Yelp advertising, it can prove to be a worthwhile investment if you’re already generating excellent results organically. Rather than diving head first and allocating thousands of dollars into Yelp advertising, test the waters by spending a couple of hundred dollars to see if you can gain traction with this type of media buying campaign. If the results prove to be unsuccessful, focus your efforts on building your profile organically and cultivating reviews.

    Now that you have a better understanding of the effectiveness of Yelp marketing, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal and optimize your presence on this local marketing platform.

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    Google's Project Owl
    Google’s Project Owl: An Initiative Against Fake News

    From presidential candidates to the everyday Joe, it seems like the usage of “fake news” as a phrase has risen exponentially over the past year. Quick to dismiss disparaging reports, politicians from both major US political parties have been quick to levy attacks against others by using the “fake news” label to discredit the reputation of their opponents. However, while the usage of the term “fake news” only skyrocketed after Donal Trump assumed office (as exhibited below), social media platforms and search engines have been infected (for lack of a better term) with misleading content for years now, with agenda-driven websites pumping out content to mislead followers.

    Fake News Search Trends
    Note the correlation between the increase in the usage of “fake news” and the number of times Donald Trump has called news organizations “fake news” on Twitter.

    While it may be difficult to corroborate the authenticity of content published within social media circles and indexed on search engines, tech giants are doing their best to minimize the potential outbreak of misleading or offensive content. Enter Google.

    Google’s Project Owl

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