5 Key Components Needed For SEO Success

It is the 21st century, and literally, everything is on the internet. Whether it is a product or a service you are searching for, chances are they are somewhere online, only a few searches and clicks away.

The influx of websites has been immense over the last couple of years and that means search engines have had to better their ranking algorithm to ensure users get exactly what they are looking for from the pool of millions of related websites.

Whether you are a professional service provider, online business person, or just a blogger, you have to know how Google works to be able to rank favorably and increase traffic on your website.

This is because there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of other websites competing for the same users you are targeting.

In this article, we will be discussing elements of a good SEO strategy but first you need to have a nodding acquaintance with the basics of SEO and how search engines work.

Understanding SEO Basics

One thing you need to know is that you won’t become a pro by simply getting acquainted with the core basics of search engine optimization. Virtually every website owner has enough information about SEO to do something about their website’s ranking, but implementation is not always that simple an affair.

Understanding how Google’s search algorithm works may bring you closer to understanding what goes into a good SEO strategy.

So, Google does something called “crawling” on every new webpage in search of content to put in their index. The Google search index is where Google stores important information about your website to help it rank you in searches.

The search engine reviews each website’s off-page and on-page SEO elements to determine what is being talked about in the specific webpages. On-page SEO elements include metadata, internal linking, URL, image Alt Text, and XML sitemaps and architecture. Off-page SEO elements, on the other hand, focus on credibility, authenticity and authority.

They are what Google uses to determine if your website provides quality content and lives up to its promises in the on-page SEO. In-bound links and social media optimization are among the most influential off-page search engine optimization elements.

Here are the components of SEO you need to focus on for a successful strategy:


You may be hearing this for the umpteenth time but keywords sit at the center of a successful SEO strategy. Keywords are the first thing the Google algorithm checks to know what your website is all about.

By this, we mean that Google will only know you supply bread if it finds the keywords “bread”, “bread supplier”, “bread seller” etc. in the content on your website.

One way to identify the right keywords to put in your website and content is listening to your customers. Is there a specific question they keep on asking about your product or service? How do they tend to frame their questions?

Keyword research is even easier if you have been running your website for a while. You can use the search function to tell what users are typing in your search bar. This will, however, be helpful in retaining customers that know about you already.

For new users, you have to know what the competitors in your market are doing. Google Keyword Planner and similar tools can help you identify the most popular keywords in your niche.

Social media optimization

With everyone now on social media and your rivals finding this the perfect place to fish for new customers, you simply have no choice but to follow suit. A brief social media profile detailing what your business does, where you are located, and the links to your website can be very helpful in attracting a large number of potential customers on the internet.

Just ensure what is in your social media page reflects what is in the webpages where the links are directing. This includes specific keywords and content tone.

Your content

Content quality is imperative when it comes to retaining users that have already been to your website. Remember, traffic and bounce rates are among the most influential SEO factors.

A good SEO strategy invites Google to rank you favorably in its results pages, which will likely increase the traffic to your website. If the webpage is good and informative, they will remain in your website and probably inquire about your services.

If the content is bad, they will leave almost immediately, and Google will realize there is something wrong about your website. Consequently, they will lower your ranking and affect your traffic.

So, while you work to seduce the search engines to rank you higher, do not forget about the expectations of the people you are targeting.

Your blog

A website that has a blog is better positioned to get more traffic than one without. That’s a known fact! The more you post blogs that link to your website, the likelier you are to be found by random users on the internet.

Blogs give you the platform to account for alternative keywords that you may not have had room for on your main pages. Also, by writing about random topics around your niche, you are likely to grab the attention of customers who were initially looking for information about your type of product but weren’t sure if they needed the product.

Give your blogs the same attention you would your main web pages in terms of quality, information, and optimization, and let the users get curious about your website and product or service.

Feedback and reviews

With so many products investing on the blurb and online marketing rather than the product itself, potential customers may not simply believe in your hype, however convincing you seem. They will still want to hear from your current and past customers for a more informed decision.

The best way to get positive customer reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Google, and other review platforms is definitely to provide quality products. However, you can still use discounts and other forms of gifts to incentivize satisfied customers to give you five star reviews on these sites.

About The Author

Catherine Park is a connector with Caffeinated who help businesses find their audience online. She loves working in the ever-changing world of digital and is fascinated by the role content plays in today’s marketing.

4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs Vision Now More Than Ever

Welcome to the age of information overload, a world where everyone can share their thoughts, ideas, experiences from anywhere and at any time. For business owners, this can be a huge asset – you no longer have to live only by trial-and-error, guessing your way through what works and what doesn’t.

Those who have “been there and done that” are sharing their experiences more than ever before, and a lot of that advice is free and even relatively easy to follow.

Then you realize that not everyone is saying the same thing. In fact, credible sources sometimes preach the exact opposite of one another!

“You should bootstrap” or “you should raise money.”  

“Avoid debt like the plague,” or “maximize your return with debt.”

“Outsource your engineering work,” or “only hire in-house”

This is where “information overload” becomes “information conflict.”  And trying to follow all of it can send your business into an out-of-control tailspin.

Trying to do everything ends up with the same result as doing nothing — except you’re tired and broke at the end.

Having a clear vision for your business changes all of that.  When there’s ambiguity or conflict, look to your vision.  When there’s a tough decision to make, look to your vision.

Beyond being that “North Star,” a vision helps in other ways.  A vision will:

Keep you focused.

Your business’s vision allows you to cut through the noise and dial in on what you actually need to be doing in order to have success. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, chances are you aren’t zeroed in on your business’s vision.

What can you be doing right now that will actually help your business grow in the fastest way possible? When you have your vision in mind, you can answer this question much more easily.

Inspire your team.

Think of a time you held a job you were excited to go to every day.  My guess is you felt fulfilled by the work you were doing — and fulfillment is hard to come by if we don’t know what we’re working toward.

When we do have a big goal, a guiding light, a vision — and we see ourselves each day making progress toward that, that’s incredibly inspiring.  And when an entire team feels that fulfillment and inspiration, they’re much more likely to succeed.

Give you a unique stance.

One of the most important things about having a strong vision for your business is that it makes you unique.

The modern marketplace is a crowded one, and “me-toos” don’t get noticed.  Neither does inauthenticity — consumers can smell it from a mile away. But when you have a true vision, it makes you both unique and authentic — keys to attracting team members, customers, and press.

Prevent you from going broke.

Lots of successful business coaches and mentors talk about the dangers of being opportunistic. Always chasing down the “next great opportunity” can make you stray from the tasks at hand. A lot of these opportunities are expensive, too.

When you keep your business’s vision in mind, it allows you to say “no” to great marketing and flashy ideas. Rather than spending your time and money on a new idea, keep your head down and follow the path your vision needs you to in order for it to be fully realized.

Your business’s vision will evolve over time, which is great. If it’s not evolving over the years, something’s wrong. But, remember, that evolution takes time. Have you fully articulated your business’s current vision yet? If the answer is no, work on it now — the dividends will pay for the entire life of your business.

Hitting the Bullseye When Creating Your Brand Identity

Branding, in general, is only effective if it falls on receptive ears. That is, if you communicate a value proposition to your target audience and the message(s) falls flat, then you didn’t do an effective job of branding, to say the least. Effective branding is all about not only understanding who your target audience is but also knowing how to get through to them.

For example, let’s say you offer on-demand legal services. Your target buyer could be small businesses who do not have the budget to hire full-time counsel. So, how can you get through to these people? Well, you have to do a few things first to best understand their hot buttons, such as:

  1. Put yourself in their shoes and imagine walking through a typical day – what challenges do they face? What might irk them the most?
  2. Develop a buyer persona to bring these users to life.
  3. Make an educated guess as to what they read (industry publications, websites, blogs) they might read and visit those sites to see what topics are trending.

Once you have answered these questions, it is time to aggregate your list of challenges/hot buttons and industry topics and develop messages/value propositions to address them with solutions and value.

Crafting Targeted Key Messages

Here is an example (again, using the on-demand legal services firm):

  • Identified hot buttons: no free time, small budget, limited cash flow.
  • Identified challenges: compliance infractions, customer disputes.
  • Key message: XYZ offers small businesses enterprise-caliber legal services without incurring upfront capital expenses or having to retain full-time counsel.
  • Value proposition: Small businesses have immediate access to the legal support needed to comply with relevant regulations, settle otherwise costly disputes and more.

Every key message and associated value proposition should at the very least specify the target buyer and the value they receive, as shown above.

Dedicated, Buyer-Specific Web Pages

Another way to resonate with target buyers is to bifurcate your audience on your homepage by directing visitors to pages dedicated to their specific needs. For the legal firm, buyer pages might include “Small Business Owner”, “Venture Capitalist” and “Small Division of Big Enterprise”. On each of these pages, focus on the following:

  1. Intro – appeal to their needs, challenges and hot buttons to show you understand what they’re going through.
  2. Solution – present your solution (products/services) as the answer to their problems; use differentiation to make your wares stand out from your competitions’.
  3. Value – introduce the specific value your solutions afford this target buyer and try to fit the value into their particular business environment.
  4. ROI – if possible, cite a customer example and the associated ROI they received.

Branding isn’t easy…at all. This is why there are scores of branding professionals at the ready to help you perform the functions outlined in this article. As a small business yourself, it is absolutely imperative that you do more with less. I know this, as a small business owner myself. I’m always having to turn water into wine or a quarter into a dollar. It’s what we do.

Being as targeted as possible with your branding is yet another way of doing the same thing. You don’t have the resources to boil the ocean, so pick a small cove and just heat that up. The more targeted you can get with your target buyers, their needs and the value you afford them, the more you can do with less.

As an aside, you can extend your targeted branding practices to your sales scripts, your collateral materials, your blog posts, your event booths and so on.

From SEO to SXO: How to Enhance Your Website User Experience

The power of Search Engine Optimization cannot be disputed easily. It can help any business build credibility and take its brand to the market, attract the type of traffic that can lead to more sales, and give you an insight to the character of your customers. However, in order for a business to benefit fully from SEO, it needs to ensure that it has a website that promotes Search Experience Optimization (SXO). But wait, what is SXO?

Search Experience Optimization refers to a new trend where marketers are starting to realize the importance of a more holistic approach which recognizes that users need to be placed at the heart of the SEO process. SXO is a way of ensuring that the visitor to a website has a great experience resulting from a site that is user-friendly. There are a number of things that website designers can do to achieve this.

Provide Helpful Content

In order to move from just focussing of keywords, ensure that the content you provide is useful to the person who visits your website. You can achieve this by consciously writing for people and not machines. Write it not only to be understandable buy also in such a way that it addresses the unique needs of your target market.

Design the Site to Enhance User Experience

While it is important to ensure that your content, whether it is for social media marketing, blog series or drip email campaigns, is great, you will also need to ensure that the site on which the content is located does not disappoint visitors. The site needs to load fast, while also displaying properly across different  devices.

You will also need to ensure that the navigation is clear. What this means is that visitors are able to distinguish between different clickable buttons so that they are not subjected to the frustration of clicking the wrong ones.

The design of the site should also be simple. This doesn’t mean that you should not invest sufficient effort and costs. In actual fact, it takes more effort to ensure that the website contains no clutter that could easily leave visitors confused.

The website should employ good use of white space. This ensures that visitors do not feel that the information on the site is overwhelming them. When white space is used effectively, the website comes across as not being cluttered. It also ensures that the central message you are attempting to get to the visitors can clearly be located.

Follow Users to Mobile Devices  

According to Mike Templeman in this Forbes article, search experience optimized websites understand that most people are now using mobile devices to browse the web. This is a statistic supported by the Telegraph which indicates that by as late as 2015, the number of people browsing the web using mobile devices had already exceeded the number of people doing so using desktops. Hence, businesses should be investing more resources in ensuring that their sites are optimized for this increasing mobile traffic.  

The idea is no longer to worry about machines when creating content, but about the human beings  who will interact with it.

3 Reasons Why You Should Build Your Website With WordPress

3-reasons-why-you-should-build-your-website-with-wordpressIf you didn’t already know, WordPress powers more than a quarter of all the websites on the Internet. There’s a reason why and if you are still on the fence, here’s why you want to use WordPress.

Abundance of Help

Because of its popularity, you can find all sorts of help on WordPress. Free discussion forums, tutorials, virtual assistants, and developers. Plenty of people out there providing help or some sort of service related to WordPress.

If you are the DIY-er, that means you are rarely without guidance. If you prefer to outsource, guess what? There are plenty of people who are familiar with it and can work on it for you. This means you don’t have to train them. That is a bonus.

The last thing you want is to pay someone to learn how to use an obscure software. I’ve been there and done that. It kills your momentum and happily gobbles up your profits.

Beyond that, many popular web hosting companies today support WordPress. The more your host understands your software, the better off you are.

Highly Customizable

Apple used to have an iPhone commercial that said, “There’s an app for that”. Well, with WordPress, the same is true. Just about anything you want to do on your site, there’s a plugin for that.

What this means for you. You rarely need to hire people to create custom solutions for you. Bottom line, you spend less creating that solution and you don’t have to maintain it. That again saves you money in the long run.


This is so important. There are many all-in-one services out there. You host with them, use their software. They may even be easier to use. But when you want to migrate after you have outgrown it? Perhaps not so easy.

These services may tell you that your content belongs to you. That may be true, but what they don’t say is, they may not provide the tools to export your content. In short, they try to lock you in. It’s more common than you think.

According to one developer, a client tried to move away from one such service. The site has years of content, both text, and pages. Turns out, the service would only allow her to export textual content, not their images.

Sure, WordPress is not perfect. No system on the planet is. However, it is the right answer for most use cases. That is close to perfect in an imperfect world.

One Simple Trick To Keep Your Social Media Profiles Hopping

One Simple Trick To Keep Your Social Media Profiles Hopping

Are you caught in the constant struggle to keep your social media profiles updated? I know the feeling.

That’s why my social media accounts have languished for years. When I have more time to devote, there are spurts of sharing and engagement. When I don’t – which is most times – well… you can imagine.

I wasn’t ready to give up though and recently started simply sharing 6 items every day. The results have been quite interesting. On Twitter, I went from these figures in March:

Twitter analytics March 2016

To this in July – the first full month I started consistent, daily sharing.

Twitter analytics July 2016

What I’m after are impressions, mentions and profile visits. It looks like I got what I wanted there. A nice side effect to sharing lots of other people’s content is, when you share a good one of your own, it does not look too spammy and it actually gets more attention. That’s what happened on Facebook for me.

Yeah, but how do you solve the problem of finding time to share all this content?

First “secret” I’d say is getting a Buffer account. You could use other scheduling apps of your choice. I simply like and use Buffer.

Next, instead of finding time to share, a small shift in perspective – use social media as a bookmarking tool. Here’s what I mean.

There’s so much amazing content out there, sometimes you find them while you are researching something else, and you don’t want to get sucked into reading. Other times, the content is so huge, so meaty. There’s no way you can consume and put into action the suggestions in one go.

For example, this one right here from AppSumo. This type of content I have to digest bits at a time. Instead of bookmarking and returning to it later, I chose to share it. I do this for every piece of content I find interesting and want to return to later.

Of course, you want to take into account if that would interest your followers. For me, 90% of the time, the answer is yes because of the content and sites I choose to visit.

All this is very natural. For example, if you are selling nail tools and embellishments, you’d probably be following nail blogs, watch nail art related videos etc because you are naturally attracted to this type of content.

When you think bookmarking instead of intentionally looking for content to share, you’ll fill your Buffer queue a lot faster. And, your own social media feed becomes useful to yourself as well.

[Book Review] Sell With A Story

In the past, my experience with story-selling books and courses have not been great. This could be my own mental block. In my mind, you’re either a story-teller or you’re not. And, I think it’s not that easy to teach people to become story-tellers. It’s a challenging skill to master.

As you can imagine, this made me quite skeptical when I got a review copy of Sell With A Story by Paul Smith. This is not Smith’s first book on using stories. He also authored Lead with a Story and Parenting with a Story, but I’ve read neither. This is my first introduction to his books.

Overall, I enjoyed his writing style. Simple and easy to follow. I also loved the format of the book which is more like a workbook. There is “homework” at the end of each chapter which is very helpful. I appreciated the many examples and how he lead me through the methods of identifying what’s a story and what’s not. It was clear, and it clicked for me.

Then I got to the part where we were to create a short, concise story to introduce ourselves and what we do. Oh boy! This is a challenge because I do so many things. I’ve always failed at creating an elevator speech. Plus, my feeble attempts using a story as an introduction always seem to drag on.

The example he used to teach how to create this intro story is super helpful. Using that, I believe I now have a simple, direct and short intro story. It’s still a little rough at the edges but definitely a lot easier to tell people what I do without their eyes glazing over. Because… you know, tech tends to do that.

The target audience for this book is sales professionals. Not so much digital marketers, or entrepreneurs. Still, I found it pretty helpful to craft easy to understand, engaging stories in explaining complex things. I think it can be quite helpful for writing blog posts too.

The book is scheduled to release September 2016 but you can get a copy now.

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