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No Money, No Problem: 17 Free Ways To Boost Your Website’s SEO

Sure, you can hire out your SEO work. But why spend so much of your hard-earned money?

Jayson Demers

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SEO is a popular online marketing strategy, and therefore, competitive, but I’m consistently amazed at how many business owners and marketers opt not to engage in an SEO strategy because of its perceived limitations or drawbacks.

One of the biggest misperceptions is that SEO is expensive, and it’s driven by the fact that some agencies have higher-level packages that cost tens of thousands of dollars per month.

Yes, SEO can be expensive for hyper-competitive, national-scale businesses, but that doesn’t mean it’s unaffordable for the average business owner.

Related: 17 Free Online Tools to Help You Grow Your Blog to 1 Million Visitors

In fact, there are dozens of simple strategies you can execute yourself, for free, to better optimise your site for search engines. These are just some of the major ones:

1. Find better keywords

Optimise for keywords that are closer to your niche and have fewer competitors. Google Trends and Google’s Keyword Tool in AdWords are free tools that should give you all the data you need. For help, see this article.

2. Delete duplicate content

Google Search Console will display any instances of duplicate content it finds on your site. Usually, these are the result of canonicity errors (not plagiarism), but you still need to correct this to keep your site in good standing.

3. Fix 404 errors
404-error-page

These errors are like dead ends, and nobody likes dead ends. Again, refer to Google Search Console for help, and set up 301 redirects where necessary to close the gaps here.

4. Write a unique title tag for every page

Every page should have a title tag, of under 70 characters, that describes the page, features the desired keyword and is unique from every other title tag on your website. For a more comprehensive guide on on-site optimisation, see this article.

Related: 6 Free Online Classes For Digital-Marketing Beginners

5. Write a compelling meta description for every page

Every page should also have a meta description, under 160 characters, that more elaborately describes the page. The meta description probably doesn’t play much of a role in your actual page rankings, but it certainly affects click-through rates.

There’s evidence that click-through rates affect rankings, though, so ensure that your meta descriptions are unique, concise and compelling.

6. Clean up your URL structure

Your URLs should have a breadcrumbs trail and feature readable indicators of the content on the page, such as the page title. Avoid using numbers or random strings of text in your URLs.

7. Update your blog often

blog-update

More content, as long as it’s valuable to readers, is never a bad thing. Google recently released an algorithm update that seems to favour fresh content, so keeping your blog updated is more beneficial than ever before.

8. Include H1, H2, H3, etc. headers in your content

Your content should be logically divided into subsections, with headlines and sub-heads. These need to be marked with html tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to help Google process and understand the intent and organisation of your content.

9. Add internal links

Linking together the relevant pages of your site is good for user experience, and helps Google better understand relationships between pages on your site. If your site is on WordPress, there are plugins that can automatically help, such as SEO Auto links.

Related: 4 Digital Marketing Trends to Pay Attention to Right Now

10. Optimise your images

Your images should be optimised for SEO too, and that task is relatively simple – title them appropriately, add descriptive alt tags and keep them in the proper format.

11. Reference authoritative outside sources

Google pays attention to what you link to in an article. Citing authoritative sources to back up your claims will make your content more credible and trustworthy to Google as well as to your readers.

12. Include social media integrations

Every article on your site should be accompanied by social share icons; social shares serve as indirect ranking signals, giving you the opportunity to earn more inbound links, which pass authority back to your site.

13. Optimise your website loading speed

User-experience

This can be as simple or as complicated as you make it; there are several ways to make a site faster, such as reducing image sizes, adding a caching plugin, switching hosting providers and deleting unnecessary plugins.

14. Optimise for mobile devices

The majority of Google search now occurs on mobile devices, so if your site doesn’t display attractively for mobile users, you could be missing out on a huge chunk of traffic. Also, Google will not display your website prominently in mobile search results if your website isn’t mobile-optimised.

Related: With These Apps You Will Absolutely Rock Instagram Marketing

15. Earn some links

As a consistent strategy, link-building demands heavy investment, but if you’re just getting started, you can earn some links by:

  1. Getting active enough in your community to earn media coverage
  2. Publishing an opinion about a controversial topic you’re qualified to write about
  3. Reaching out to a publication in your industry to secure a guest posting opportunity.

These days, there are really only three viable strategies for link building; this article covers them.

16. Remove bad links

Use Google Search Console to download a list of links to your website. Then, evaluate your link profile and identify “bad” links from low-authority sources. Remove them manually or through an email request to the webmaster.

17. Syndicate your content

You’re writing lots of great content, but what are you doing with it? Take a moment to syndicate your content through social media channels, which increases the likelihood that it will earn rank-boosting links to your site.

These tactics alone won’t guarantee you a top ranking for a competitive keyword, nor are they suitable to manage a campaign in the long term, but they will give you a strong boost and a good foundation to build an ongoing strategy. Building a full campaign from scratch takes time, effort and patience – and you’ll probably run into hurdles.

In addition, money is the substitute to addressing these problems – it spares you the time and effort of doing the work yourself, and connects you with experts right away. But even then, you’ll be paying for a return. Remember: This isn’t an expense, it’s an investment.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Jayson DeMers is the founder & CEO of AudienceBloom, a content marketing agency, as well as EmailAnalytics, an email productivity monitoring app for Gmail and G suite. Contact him on Twitter or LinkedIn.

Online Marketing

Here Is Why Your Facebook Ad Campaigns Aren’t Producing Results

Below are 5 expert tips to help you create Facebook ads campaigns that will convert more visitors into customers.

Jandre de Beer

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With over a billion daily active users scrolling through their Facebook newsfeed on a daily basis, Facebook presents a massive opportunity that can help grow any business. Business owners underestimate the amount of attention Facebook yields.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to tell customers about your products you had to rent a newspaper ad, or pay for a billboard next to the road. Not only was this way of advertising expensive, but it was also a hassle. Contracts needed to be drawn up, quotes needed to be passed around, and it could take weeks to kick-start a campaign.

Today, with the push of a button, Facebook can help you show your product and service in to millions of users through something called Facebook Ad Manager. All it takes is a few clicks, and a couple of bucks of course.

However, getting your ads onto people’s news feeds is the easy part. The harder part and the part you’re most likely after, especially if you are a small to medium sized business owner, is how to make your ads convert into qualified leads or potential customers!

Related: 7 Ways That Facebook Ads Can Rock Your Business

In my experience, a lot business owners doubt the power of social media, and the main reason for this is because they’ve experimented with it themselves and no “luck”.

My question to the business owner in return is usually, who’s going to utilise a hammer and a nail the best, me or a professional carpenter? I might be able to start the process, but only a professional is going to be able to create a modern kitchen cabinet.

In the same way, just because you’ve boosted a post on Facebook that didn’t produce any results doesn’t meant the platform is the issue.

If you want to market your product, service or offer effectively, ads need to be tailored to the market, and the business in a way that makes the offer irresistible.

A great way to do this is by narrowing your target audience and placing the right message in front of the right people at the right time.

Below I’ve outlined 5 expert tips to help you create Facebook ads campaigns that will convert more visitors into customers.

You Don’t Have Any Social Proof

As simple as a social proof might seem, it’s a very effective tool when it comes to building trust in potential clients. People are already scared of getting scammed, that is why you need to help them overcome the hurdle by ensuring them that your offer or company is real.

A social proof is a figure that indicates the number of people using a product or service.

For instance, a company’s social proof might be something like this “join over one thousand satisfied customers”. This shows that there are over a thousand people who are happily using the product.

With such a large happy customer base using the product, potential customers will be more willing to trust your brand. After all, over a thousand people are satisfied, so why shouldn’t they be too?

There is No Incentive

How do you draw a user’s attention to your ads amidst the loads of competitors present in the news feed?

Customers are wiser than ever and won’t be sweet talked into buying a product any more. Nowadays, nothing draws people’s attention more than a good incentive.

In order to grab a user’s attention and to convert someone into a customer; offering an irresistible incentive is your best bet.

By granting incentives, in the form of coupons, discounts, freebies, user’s attention will not only be drawn to your ads, but it will also cause excitement, and most likely, sales.

Related: 6 Facebook Marketing Tips To Help Grow Your Small Businesses

There is No Time Stamp

Adding a time stamp offer to your offer will help create urgency when it comes to getting the customer to seal the deal. If there was no end date, the customer has all the time in the world to think about whether this offer is really the best offer at hand.

People are always afraid of missing out on a great deal and studies have shown that customers are just more inclined to take action the moment they are aware that a deal might expire. The emotion of loss is a powerful psychological marketing tool.

You Are Not Testing

Facebook offers numerous ad placement options and below are just some of the ones you can look into:

  1. Desktop newsfeed
  2. Mobile newsfeed
  3. Right hand column on desktop
  4. Instagram newsfeed
  5. Instagram stories
  6. Facebook Messenger home screen etc.

Knowing this, how do you determine the best position to place your ads for maximum conversions?

To do this, you can go with the A/B testing tool which rotates your ads between the different positions while providing real-time stats about the performance of your ads. By finding the best can help you lower cost per engagement while increasing the number of conversions.

You Are Not Consistent with Your Message and Offering

Customer expectations are high when it comes to promotions and offers. It’s essential to not leave them disappointed. How many times have you clicked on an offer and then realised it’s only when you spend an X amount or only at a certain store.

To further boost your conversions, ensure that your message is crystal clear and that there is no room for customer disappointment.

You Are Not Targeting the Right Audience

Be honest, as a business owner, have you ever boosted a post from your page hoping it might translates to sales?

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with boosting a post, however, if you want to ensure you get the best bang for buck, and if your main goal is to ensure you are targeting the right people at the right time, then your focus is going to be in Facebook Ad Manager.

This is where you can access your Facebook Pixel’s data and either retarget specific customers or target ones that showed interest but never converted.

Example, you can create a Facebook newsfeed ad and only target people who clicked on the services page but never took the plunge. There’s a reason they didn’t submit their details? What could it be? You might never know, but at least now you have a second chance to help them convert.

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Online Marketing

Custom Content Via E-commerce Heralds The Future Of Marketing

Informative, catchy content is key to ecommerce engagement. It is an affordable marketing strategy with high impact on ROI.

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Content does not demand huge resources; a blog can be launched fairly quickly. However, consumer attention spans are pulled in many directions, so they demand the best on offer.

Peer pressure

With two hours per day spent by the average person on social media, it makes sense to harness the potential of these platforms for product inspiration and building hype and desirability of your brand. Studies have shown that most consumers value posts written by other consumers above scripted advertising. Advertising does still have a role to play, but the approach needs to be fresh in enhancing customer experiences alongside customers’ peer reviews to build relationships.

Millennials are so aware of an oversaturated market place that they are difficult to sell to. Images and messages are easily crafted and edited into being what they are not.

Likewise, influencer support can be faked or bought. Supposed sponsorship can be off-putting when relied on in excess to lend gravitas to a post. While influencer endorsement is rife, it must be approached with discernment. Fake engagements are equally rife. From buying followers to staging fake boosting of your friends’ posts, fraud is everywhere, but ultimately cannot sustain.

Related: 3 Ways To Build Your Brand Identity Using Content Marketing

Value +

What does sustain is authenticity, and this is what Millennials are searching for. Brands are wise to allow consumers inside the real stories that make their brand what it is.

Consumers value brands that stand for more. Ethics, social welfare, and edu-commerce. Content that encourages development, both personal and communal is a draw card. Enlightening consumers as to how to get the most out of your products means you are concerned about maximizing value. In the age of ecommerce, transparency and authenticity, brands need to be clear on their vision and mission. In this way, a brand can consistently stay true to its values, and build relationships and trust with the consumer. Next level transparency means revealing all aspects of what makes your product what it is; taking pride in manufacturing, reviews, and individual relevance.

Omni-potent

Shopping via the ecommerce is undeniably where it’s at for a myriad of reasons. Ease of price and product comparison, convenience, Generation X time constraints and techno affinity are all factors. Consumers now expect a slick, omnichannel shopping facility that meets their unique lifestyles and personal needs. A majority of customers value customer experience over price when choosing a brand. With sound content enhancing ecommerce engagement, the future of marketing has great potential.

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Staying Relevant In The Facebook Age Of Meaningful Social Interactions

With Facebook announcing that it is pushing brand and publisher content out of news feeds, how can businesses, especially small and medium enterprises in South Africa, remain relevant?

Madex

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It was deemed a “rude awakening” early in January 2018 when Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that the social networking platform had changed its algorithm, basically meaning it had changed what users see on their news feeds.

This follows a pretty harsh year for Facebook, where it was criticised for not having the right countermeasure to stop the spread of fake news and propaganda. So now its set of rules has changed; bumping up users’ friends and family members’ status updates and photos, and underplaying public news articles and content published by brands.

But where does that leave the small or medium businesses reliant on communicating their brand messages through Facebook? How do they now reach Facebook users (estimated to be approximately two billion)?

There is still a way

jodene-shaer“’Meaningful interaction’ is not something new to Zuckerberg’s focus on how brands engage with their Facebook audience,” explains Jodene Shaer, international business owner and head strategist of social media engagement specialist, Chat Factory.

Related: 5 Marketing Missteps That Make Cash Flow And Business Growth Stumble

“There is a place for paid media, but if a brand is trying to be seen organically, then it must feel like it is part of the flowing content people want to see from friends and family. It is pushing for the reason that Facebook was created in the first place – to be social.”

Authenticity key

Truly embracing the power of live videos and video content on Facebook – and then creating reasons for the public to engage with those posts – is an excellent move for any business that is budget conscious, Shaer adds.

“The ranking for visibility of organic content is highest when live. Live videos are absolutely the route to go, as followers receive a notification that you are live and there is greater chance of visibility. A big advantage is that you can save that content to the page and it becomes shareable, and can be uploaded to YouTube, where there is still a strong call for business content.

“And it doesn’t have to be high budget either, but it must be authentic, informative, engaging and encouraging. Of all things, ensure that all comments are responded to and shares and reviews are acknowledged.”

Looking beyond Facebook

Shaer believes that smaller local businesses can make their ad rands stretch further on Facebook by moving onto Ads Manager, instead of simply using the Boost button. “The reach is different, so invest in watching some YouTube videos as tutorials,” she recommends. “Boost to unique target audiences and turn the boosting into a science, by watching your reach. Set up smaller boosts and spread your spend across a few posts instead of one big boost. Track your stats and see which audiences work best.”

“One way that South African SMEs could also make use of InstaStories, as these are gaining organic reach. They could also look at varying hashtags, but using a few to reach a very specific audience.

Related: Marketing Tips For Start-ups

“We’ve seen the opening up of the use of LinkedIn and had people return to using the power of Twitter, so it’s worth investigating how to maximise other platforms while trying to keep your budget low.

“None of this should put a small business off, but should create exciting and challenging opportunities to shift how social media is used and explore the outcomes of each post, to truly develop a social media presence,” she adds.

Shaer will be one of an entire panel of dynamic, expert presenters speaking at the upcoming Madex 2018 show, the ultimate marketing, advertising, design, social media and all that good stuff expo.

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