Author Archives: Brooke Willard

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to Bing

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to BingWe recently covered how to submit your XML sitemap to Google as part of your onsite SEO efforts, so we wanted to be sure we circled back to talk about submitting that same XML sitemap to Bing, as well.

Submitting the XML sitemap is a great way to tell search engines about all the content on your website and make it quicker and easier for the search engines to find, index and return the website in search results.

Steps to Submit the XML Sitemap to Bing

  1. Jot down the URL for your website’s XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  2. Create a Bing Webmaster Toolsaccount and verify that you own the website.
  3. Once logged into your Bing Webmaster Tools account, go to Configure My Site, then Sitemaps.
  4. Paste the entire XML sitemap URL into the box. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  5. Click “Submit” and you’re done! The status will update when the sitemap has been crawled and indexed.

 

Online User Reviews Are No Longer a One-Way Street

weekly-reads-header-5

The way we interact online is constantly evolving. For brands, we’re finding new ways to connect with consumers – and it is becoming even easier for those consumers to tell the world about their experiences with brands. This week, we take a look at some new opportunities – and risks – to consider when we’re building connections out in the digital space.

User Reviews

Website Magazine: User Reviews Are King
Online reviews can either make or break your business. Twenty-two percent of users will not buy after reading just ONE negative review, and consumers are likely to spend 31 percent more on a business with excellent reviews. This handy infographic explores how valuable – or potentially damaging – an online review, and your response, can be for your business. Read more after the jump…

Key SEO Takeaways from SMX Advanced in Seattle

SMX Advanced Conference SEO Workshop with Google“Five years ago, you could do SEO in your sleep. Now, you have to actually be awake.” – Bruce Clay

Mobile-first index, AMP, PWAs, featured snippets, chatbots, voice search, virtual assistants… The world of SEO is changing – and changing fast. There were 1,623 Google algorithm changes in the past year alone. That’s an average of four to five updates per day.

I had a blast learning about some of these current and upcoming changes while attending the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle this week. Three days of back-to-back sessions – chock full of nothing but search, search, search. I even joked on day two that there was some hidden meaning in the fact that several of us had to search long and hard to find not only a place to sit to eat our hot lunches, but also to find silverware with which to eat them.

By the end of day three I walked away better equipped to serve GroundFloor Media’s and CenterTable’s clients and excited to for what’s to come. This conference packed quite a punch for those who work (or play) in the search marketing world – and certainly left me wanting more. But like all good things, SMX had to come to an end (until the next one anyway). Here are a few of the many takeaways from the conference:

Top Ranking Factors and Algorithm Updates

  • Top ranking factors in 2017 include more content, more images and faster speeds – and, obviously, mobile/responsiveness.
  • The more content you have, the better your chances of ranking well. Recommended page length varies by topic, ranging from 800-2,700 words per page. The most tolerated paragraph length for a user is two to three sentences.
  • Focus on getting one really good backlink rather than 10 mediocre ones. And buying links on large article sites (think Forbes) are a waste of resources from an SEO perspective.
  • Speed is crucial: 53 percent of people will bounce out of a webpage if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
  • You don’t necessarily need to have a high authority website or use schema to get a featured snippet. And if you’re in position six, it can be easier to get to position zero than position one.

Mobile is Huge

  • 60 percent of searches are conducted on mobile devices and 50 percent of website traffic comes from users on mobile devices. This trend is rapidly growing.
  • The Mobile-First Index is coming – although likely not until sometime in 2018. We need to be preparing now and responsive design is the preferred approach, otherwise you’ve got lots of work to do to get ready for the switch.
  • Hidden website content with the use of CSS will still rank in a mobile-first index, but Googlebots probably cannot see it if it’s something you have to click to see on the page, such as with JavaScript.
  • People research spontaneously on mobile so it’s a huge lost opportunity if you’re not there when they need you. However, people typically don’t complete their research or buy/convert on mobile. Desktop still matters!
  • Google’s mobile interstitial penalty was rolled out – make sure you’re compliant.
  • Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) seem to be preferred over AMP. But you can apply AMP coding standards to your website to increase its speed.

The Latest in Local Search

  • Citations (which are online references to your business’s name, address and phone number) are the ante to play in the local SEO game. Once you’re in the game, they don’t make a big difference.
  • Although proximity is a huge factor in local search, it is not the only factor. You have to have at least decent onsite SEO in place to even make the cut to appear in the local pack. Once you make that cut, Google will then order listings by proximity.
  • Schema markup is essential for SEO success in local businesses and eCommerce sites for that matter.

Lastly, these quotes I overheard throughout the week really put SEO into perspective for us:

  • SEO is not something you do. It’s what happens when you have done everything else right.
  • Make your website so good that Google feels embarrassed if they’re NOT showing it in search results.
  • Building a website without SEO is like building a house without the wiring.
  • Over optimization is like putting on too much makeup. At some point, you don’t like it.
  • Now more people have smart phones than toilets.

 

 

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to Google

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to GoogleYou’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a new website. The design is perfect. The content flows beautifully. The graphics are stunning. Now you’ve got to get people there.

One of the simplest, and often overlooked, steps of SEO is submitting your XML sitemap to the search engines. Although the search engine bots will eventually find your site anyway, submitting an XML sitemap can help speed up the crawling and indexing processes for your website and help to improve its ability to rank well in search results.

Steps to Submit the XML Sitemap to Google

  1. Visit your website and make note of the URL of your XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  2. Create a Google Search Console account and verify that you own the website.
  3. Once verified and logged into your Google Search Console account, go to Crawl, then Sitemaps.
  4. Click the red “Add/Text Sitemap” button then add the subfolder portion of the URL to the box. For example, sitemap.xml.
  5. Click “Submit” – and you’re done! Refresh your browser to see the sitemap is now listed. You will also be able to see if there are any errors with the sitemap you submitted.

From Changing Keyword Match Types to Google Algorithm Updates – Get the Latest in Search Engine Marketing

weekly-reads-header-5

Finding your audience in search – or more so making it possible for your audience to find you – can be a bit of a moving target. This week we’ve got updates from both the paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) sides of search to keep you on your toes.

Paid Search (PPC)

Wordstream: The Impact of Google’s New Exact-Enough Match Keywords [Data]
If you’ve perfectly honed your keyword targeting and match-type strategy in your PPC account, look out! Google is rolling out changes to its Exact Match keywords and the changes are not exactly what you’d expect.

Read more after the jump…

Corned Beef Hash(tags) For Everyone!

#StPatricksDay hashtagIt’s not too late to jump on the St. Patrick’s Day bandwagon, but don’t wait too long or you may miss out on this pot of gold completely. Whether you’re slinging corned beef hash or green beer this year, you might have the luck of the Irish by using these popular and festive hashtags:

  • #stpatricksday
  • #happystpatricksday
  • #luckoftheirish
  • #irish
  • #ireland
  • #stpattysday
  • #green

Although we know that everyone loves a holiday special, let’s not get carried away and start dropping these hashtags in where it’s not even relevant. No one likes to be deceived and there’s no quicker way to turn people off than by tricking them into clicking through.

Read more after the jump…

Weekly Reads – South By Southwest Interactive Edition

weekly-reads-header-5

Two CenterTable team members, 5 days, 29 caffeinated beverages and 107,855 combined steps. Jim and Carissa took South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference by storm last week and have plenty to share in its wake.

If you were suffering from a major case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) about SXSWi, you were not alone! That’s why Jim and Carissa made it a priority to chronicle their entire week in Austin – including everything from the best sessions all the way down to the best libations – on the GroundFloor Media & CenterTable blog! Check it out! Read more after the jump…

Blogging For SEO

Last month we talked about whether or not an organization should blog. Knowing that timely, original, meaningful and well written blog content can be incredibly beneficial for SEO, it may very well be worth the investment.

For those of you who took the time to map out a blog strategy and have decided to move forward with launching a blog – congratulations on this exciting development! As you start developing blog content, there are many on-page SEO tactics you can implement to improve your chances of ranking well in search engine results.

How To Optimize A Blog Post For SEO

When developing blog content, keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Conduct some keyword research to ensure you’re talking about your topic in the same way your audience is.
  • Create an engaging blog post title incorporating targeted keyword terms.
  • Aim for 250-500 words per blog post.
  • Write all original content. Do not scrape (aka, steal) content from another website – or even from your own!
  • Be authentic and true to your brand and messaging.
  • Break the content into smaller, more digestible chunks using headers and bullet points.
  • Include at least one image with an optimized file name and image alt tag in the top right corner of the post.
  • Assign proper categories and tags to every post. If your blog were a book, the categories would be the table of contents and the tags would be the index.
  • Create internal links to related content, such as including “related posts” at the bottom of every blog post.

To Blog or Not To Blog: That Is The Question

Should we be blogging? We get this question a lot. And the answer is a big fat clear… maybe.

It’s no secret that both users and search engines love fresh, unique content, right? Absolutely – when it’s timely, original, meaningful and well written. By blogging, you create the opportunity to build relationships with readers, position your organization as an expert in the field and provide new content for Google to index. We have seen the dramatic impact a strategic, well-run blog can have on increasing visibility and improving search engine rankings for an organization. We’re definitely a fan.

But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. We have also seen un-nurtured blogs become stale, outdated, duplicative and even a liability.

Develop a Blog Strategy

Before you dive into blogging with both feet, take a step back and think about your purpose in doing so and, maybe even more importantly, your capacity to effectively execute it. Creating a roadmap can help position you, and your blog, for success. Some things to consider before you get started:

  • Audience – Who are they and what are they interested in? Use this as a guide in developing your content strategy.
  • Authors – Identify your key thought leaders in the organization and assess their capacity and willingness to develop content.
  • Content Strategy – Align your audiences’ interests with your authors’ expertise and map out what topics you plan to cover.
  • Content Calendar – Will you have topics assigned to specific days of the week? Or will the content cycle ebb and flow with current events? Will you create a blog schedule and assign posts to specific contributors? Or will you allow authors to self-select when they provide content? How will you hold your blogging team accountable for maintaining a steady stream of content?
  • Monitoring – Will you enable blog comments? If so, develop a policy on if, when and how to respond.
  • Distribution Optimizing your blog content to be found in search is a great start, but how else will you distribute your blog posts to ensure they reach your target audience?