Basic SEO: Meta Keywords

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

Before you get started with meta tags, I would recommend you make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index). Then, review your web pages’ meta titles (read that story here) and descriptions (read that story here).

Our current installment in our SEO meta series is . . .

META KEYWORDS

This component is the easiest one yet. You just want to make sure you don’t use this particular tag.

In old-school web design, meta keywords were important in communicating the content of your web site to browsers. However, they were abused by developers, who often stacked desired keywords that weren’t even present in their content. As a result, google now ignores the tag entirely for standard searches, and bing actually uses the tag as a signal for spam. If you have a long laundry list of keywords or your keywords aren’t relevant to your content, you could be getting an SEO ding. As a result, we recommend reviewing your keywords to make sure they don’t raise any red flags. Or, you can err on the safe side and simply remove them altogether.

Below is an example of what keywords might look like in your code:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”branding, small business, entrepreneurs, DIY, how tos, quick, easy, 10 minute branding”>
</head>

You can delete the entire bracketed component for the meta name “keywords.”

Once removed, the header above would look like this:

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

Easy peasy!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Descriptions

Welcome to another installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and put aside this post for now.

A great second step is to review your web pages’ titles. (Read that story here.)

Next up . . .

META DESCRIPTIONS

The web page description is another component of “meta tags” that can communicate important information about the page to your visitors. 

If you’ve done a good job writing your “meta description,” that content will be displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results underneath the title.  For example . . .

This “snippet” (as google refers to this text) can determine whether a visitor clicks through to your page. However, google will automatically generate a snippet from your page’s content and virtually ignore your description if it doesn’t meet google’s criteria, bringing us to . . .

BEST PRACTICES FOR “SNIPPETS,” ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

  • Create a unique description for each page of your web site.
  • Include important information from your page, even if not in sentence format.
  • Some do’s and don’t of quality descriptions:
    • Don’t just list keywords; a home page should explain what your business does and include details (such as hours and location).
    • If the page is selling a product or service, do provide specific information.
    • Do summarize the content of the page.
    • Don’t be too short or generalize.
  • Use the meta description tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Description Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

OPTIMAL DESCRIPTION LENGTH

While all of google’s best practices may suggest a weighty description, google will actually only display 155-160 characters on search results. Therefore, you have the lofty goal of incorporating a wealth of specific information in as few words as possible.

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

Basic SEO: Review Your Web Pages’ Titles

Welcome to our first official installment of 10-minute branding!

10-Minute Branding Refresher: How do you build your brand 10 minutes at a time? You start small, and you simply begin. An excellent way to convince yourself to get going is to plan your ending. You can even set a timer. Then, be sure to bask in the success of your huge accomplishment of actually beginning and also appreciate the amount of work that got done. Then, repeat the process tomorrow. And the next day. And so on. You will be amazed at your branding progress . . . 10 minutes at a time.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . . check whether your web site is indexed.  If you haven’t already done that, click on over to this article (Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index) and then save this post for tomorrow.

Once you’ve taken care of that quick task, you’re ready to move forward!

META TITLES

The web page title is part of a collection of “meta tags” that communicate important information about the page to web browsers as well as your visitors. 

The “meta title” is the title of each of your web pages that gets displayed when your page is listed in a search engine’s results.  For example . . .

The title is one factor that determines whether your web page gets displayed in someone’s search results, so you want to give all of your pages their best chance at seeing the light of day.

BEST PRACTICES ACCORDING TO GOOGLE

You may already have a title on each of your web pages.  If so, that’s a great start.  Then, you need only review them to be sure they’re optimal.  So whether you’re drafting your titles from scratch or reviewing existing ones, you’ll want to review Google’s “Best Practices” for meta titles:

  • Accurately describe the page’s content.
  • Create a unique title for each page.
  • Be brief but descriptive.
  • Use the title tag (see below).
An Example of the Meta Title Tag in Action in Your HTML:
 
<html>
<head>
    <title>Brand Building for Small Business</title>
    <meta name=”description” content=”A Blog for Entrepreneurs Looking to Create and Develop their Corporate Identity.”>
</head>

ONLY 10 MINUTES A DAY

You might be questioning this approach at this point, thinking, I already spent 10 minutes just reading this article!  If so, you’re done with your 10-minute branding exercise for the day!  Come back tomorrow prepared to get started on executing the task.  Once you reach 10 minutes, save your work and come back the next day!

QUESTION?

We’re always happy to hear from you.  Scroll down to the “Leave a Reply” section below.

A Simple SEO Hack from Neil Patel

How can I easily increase traffic to my website for free?

Start your page with a question and immediately provide an answer in one sentence.

(Like above.)

Then, you can provide more information underneath. . . .

According to NP Digital Co-Founder Neil Patel, 14% of internet searches are phrased as a question.  When starting your page with a question and answer, time spent on that page will decrease by over 20% (because people are able to find the information they need quicker); however, your rankings and traffic will go up.

To illustrate how this tip would be applicable for another small business, let’s use a painting company as an example.  (Why a painting company, you ask?  No good reason; just the first business type that popped into my head.  Anyway. . . .)

If a painting company wanted to devote one of their web pages to pricing, they could start the page with a very commonly asked question like . . . “How much does it cost to paint a room?” and answer clearly while acknowledging every room is different.  For example: “A 12×12’ room typically costs about $600 to be painted, though a number of different factors can affect that price.” Then, they could go into more specifics about their cost structure in subsequent paragraphs/lists.

Can you think of a scenario on your web site that might benefit from this trick?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Branding Through Blogging

 If you haven’t considered starting your own company blog, you should, because that vehicle can be extremely useful in developing and promoting your brand.

Specifically, a blog:

  1. Creates a platform for defining who you are to existing and potential customers . . . as well as creating an additional regular need to further define yourself as you produce the ongoing content for your blog.
  2. Provides an opportunity to promote specific products and services while giving you the opportunity to highlight differentiating qualities – your sales advantage!
  3. Gives you a platform for telling your side of any story involving controversy or dispute.
  4. Can help humanize your company – associating a name and face with your operations.  (Toward that end, you might want to consider giving your key employees the chance to guest blog rather than assuming you need to produce all of the articles yourself, an approach that offers the added benefit of showcasing the depth and expertise of your organization.)
  5. Establishes a venue for starting a dialogue with your customers, especially highlighting the customer service philosophy you want associated with your brand.
  6. Provides a tool for generating new opt-in customer leads.  (Collecting e-mail addresses as part of your blog also develops a mailing list to push out notifications of new articles being available.)
  7. Adds valuable content to your website that can help boost your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) because substantial amounts of fresh content have a beneficial effect.
  8. Creates a platform for discussing your community involvements and charitable activities, which are elements of most company brands.
  9. Forces an ongoing process of self-examination crucial to staying on course with your branding strategy . . . while providing useful frequency in keeping the visual elements of your brand in front of your audience.
  10. Encourages the development of your online brand personality and social media presence as you repopulate content across those outlets.

Plus . . . you get to build new accompanying skills learned while managing your blog.

With so many potential benefits, what is the possible downside?

Full disclosure – the company that I worked for across many years never did start an official company blog during my tenure, though I was certainly a proponent and made the suggestion several times.  That said, I understood the reluctance – with the main obstacle being the potential drain on resources.  To be successful, a blog requires regular content;  you have to assume many hours of talent will be spent:

  • Writing the articles.
  • Building and maintaining the web site presence that houses the blog.
  • Updating/removing/archiving out of date content.
  • Responding to any feedback . . . and perhaps retooling operations to address this market intelligence.
  • Monitoring impact upon SEO and social media activities.

Furthermore . . .

If you elect to highlight the efforts and contributions of key employees and make them part of your brand, any loss of talent to other companies (for example, an employee leaves your business to work for the competition) is magnified and becomes even more potentially damaging to your success.

The Bottom Line:  To Blog or Not To Blog – That is the Question

While I understand the possible downside, I suspect the risk of committing to a blog might be greater for large established companies than small ones.  If you have the necessary patience and commitment . . . as well as the required communications skills, I believe a blog can be a very useful tool in building and maintaining your brand identity.  While you will certainly be devoting key resources, the content you create can provide many ancillary benefits, including support of your marketing, social media, and web development activities (among others).  Just know that, like every other worthwhile endeavor – any payback is in direct proportion to the time, effort, and talent invested!

Basic SEO: Make Sure Your Web Site is Included in Search Engines’ Index

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SEO or Search Engine Optimization, in a nutshell, helps your web site be found online.

The very first step is to make sure search engines know your web site exists.  Or, more specifically . . .

CHECK WHETHER YOUR WEB SITE IS INDEXED

Search engines “crawl” the internet, reviewing each web page found, and then organize the content in their “index” to provide as future search results based on the relevancy to keywords searched.  If you’re not in the search engine’s index, you’re virtually invisible to searchers or, as applicable to us small businesses, potential customers.

Seeing whether your web site is in their index is easy.  From any search engine, search for “site:yourwebsite.com”.  (In our case, we search:  site:brandbuildingforsmallbusiness.com.)

In our check, we found that most of our blog is a part of Google’s index.  Since Google performs the lion’s share of searches (see below), we’re going to focus on them.

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR WEB SITE IS NOT INCLUDED IN THE INDEX?

According to Google, a few common reasons explain why a site might not appear in search results.  The most popular issues and some potential solutions are listed below for you.

  • PROBLEM:  Other web sites do not link to your site, and/or your web site is simply too new.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  You can create pages for your business in social media venues (like Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and include links to your web site. 
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Find popular web sites that could benefit from content on your web site.  Once you’ve identified some possible targets, send an email or letter to the appropriate person (usually a contact page will have the needed information) and explain why you believe their web site would benefit from linking to yours.  Be sure to follow up.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Get online reviews.  If applicable to your products or services, create a page for your business on popular review sites (google, yelp, etc.) and seek out reviews.  If you know of a particularly happy customer that has a web site or a strong social media following, ask for a plug to your business.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION:  Think about business contacts that could help you promote your web site.  For instance, you may use intermediaries or suppliers that have an appropriate place on their web site to link to your business.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: And last but not least, post quality content and be patient.  “If you build it, they will come.”  Whether a baseball field or a web site that adds unique value to the digital world, people will eventually find you, and they will link to your web site.
  • PROBLEM: Google’s ability to crawl the site has been hindered by Flash, other specialized technology, or a lack of text.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: If your web site utilizes Flash or another specialized technology, you may want to consider a redesign in HTML.  While this could be a significant undertaking, you want your web site written in a language that search engines understand.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: Review the image to text ratio on your web site.  Do you have enough words for search engines to fully understand the content for each page?  If not, you can either replace your images with text (try to use formatting to achieve that same visual appeal) or supplement the images with explanatory captions.  Remember that you’re communicating with your web site’s audience as well as search engines.
  • PROBLEM: Your web site generated an error when Google tried to crawl your web site.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: The most common reason for this problem is secured content.  If your web site requires a log-in to enter the site, Google won’t be able to enter either.  Consider restructuring your web site so that your more general pages are open to the public and only the pages truly requiring a log-in get that restriction.
  • POSSIBLE SOLUTION: You can also register your web site with Google’s Search Console, which can give you some more specific information about the errors generated.

Once you feel like you have sufficiently addressed your particular problem, ask Google to crawl and index your web site.

If you have any questions or comments about getting included in Google’s index, we’ve love to hear from you.  Scroll down to the comments section. . . .

The next goal of course is to improve your web site’s search ranking, which will be the focus of a future post. 

Special Note:
Brand Building for Small Business has been identified by Feedspot (www.Feedspot.com) as one of the Top 100 Branding Blogs. Feedspot provides “the most comprehensive list of branding blogs on the Internet” so we are pleased to be part of that group.  To learn more, visit https://blog.feedspot.com/branding_blogs/.