Award Winning SEO: 3 Years in A Row

Firestarter SEO has been awarded Top SEO Agency 3 years in a row by Upcity.




Local Sponsorship Marketing

In online business, local sponsorship marketing often gets overlooked in favor of other marketing methods and platforms. However, even small businesses can benefit from using it – especially those in the Denver area who want to boost their brand visibility and recognition. Local sponsorship marketing can work hand in hand with Denver SEO efforts to help your business grow.

What is Local Sponsorship Marketing?

When you visit your local high school football stadium, everywhere you look there’s a sign that highlights a local business. That’s one form of local sponsorship marketing. You can sponsor events with businesses related to yours, sponsor little league teams, donate money to an organization to have something built – such as a park or a monument, and so on.

The good thing about local sponsorship marketing is there are often opportunities at various levels, so even small businesses with little revenue can get in on the action. How do you find these opportunities?

Finding Sponsorship Opportunities

  • Join platforms like SponsorMyEvent. These platforms connect events and businesses who are interested in sponsoring. Similar platforms include SponsorPark, SponsorPitch, and Sponseasy.
  • Look at events in your local area. Contact them and inquire about sponsoring future events.
  • Look at your competition to see what kinds of things they are sponsoring and follow their lead.

And of course, you could include a page on your website that lets others know you’re willing to sponsor events, bloggers and influencers, and so on. Include a contact form so people who are looking for sponsors can easily get in touch with you.

Remember, as you would expect the event or team you’re sponsoring to provide information about what you get from it as a sponsor, you should be ready to provide clear guidelines on the contributions you’re willing to make, and what you hope to get in return. Be prepared to offer multiple levels of sponsorship options.

 Why Should Your Business Consider It?

There are multiple benefits to Denver local sponsorship marketing, including:

  • Advertising
  • Logo on signage/clothing
  • Social media mentions (grow your fan base)
  • Links to your website in email newsletters
  • Booth at events
  • Media spots – newspaper, TV, radio
  • Verbal recognition
  • Speaking opportunities at events
  • Networking opportunities at events
  • Guest posts on organization’s blog

How Does it Help Your Online Presence?

Local sponsorship marketing in Denver helps SEO in a number of ways:

  • More traffic to your website
  • More links to your website
  • More people talking about your brand on social media
  • More likes and followers on your social media page

All of these things indirectly affect your SEO efforts. Google, and other search engines, pay attention to the traffic you’re getting, because the more traffic you’re getting, the more people are finding what they are looking for with you – in most cases. If you’re getting a lot of traffic but they bounce off your website quickly, this can backfire, so make sure you’re able to follow through on what you promise your website visitors.

Google also looks at the links to your website and where they are coming from. The more links you have, the better, as long as they are coming from related websites and from numerous domains. When people link to you, it’s a good thing, but if the links are from spam websites, it’s not.

When people are talking about you on social media, it expands your reach, as people you may not have been able to target through ads are now exposed to the posts that mention your name. When this happens, you may see an increase in your social following and interaction. Google also factors social signals into your overall ranking.

While you may not see an immediate change in your ranking because of your participation in local sponsorships, in the long run, they can provide a great boost to your efforts.

What to Expect

If you’re looking for immediate results, local sponsorship options are not the best choice. Because these campaigns take one to three months to execute, they should be part of your longer term marketing strategy. If you need immediate results, increase your PPC ad budget.

Also, don’t expect to be able to use a one-size-fits-all approach, as there are many different opportunities with vast diversity. Look for opportunities that align with your brand and can help you reach your goals, rather than going for just anything you can find and afford. You’ll end up with a much better return on your investment that way.

Here are Firestarter SEO, we know the value of local sponsorship marketing, and are willing to help you navigate it as part of your overall online marketing plan. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how to leverage our Denver SEO alongside local sponsorships to help your business grow.

 

Photo credit: StockUnlimited


How to Use Local SEO to Build Engagement?

As a local business, it’s important to step up your game if you want to get online visibility. Competition is getting more fierce and your website isn’t the only piece of the puzzle anymore. You need to focus on optimizing for local search and use local engagement tactics to help you get better online visibility. Hiring us is a great way to start, but working alongside us can help you get results faster.

Local SEO and Google AI

Before getting started, let’s take a second to discuss the relatively new connection between local search optimization and Google Assistant, or Google AI. Google has announced augmented reality (AR) will be added to Google Maps. Once you open the Google Maps app, you will be able to transfer to a first-person view of Maps with Street View to become more familiar with new locations. The new walking mode update will also allow for an augmented fox to help guide you through the unknown.

Maps are also getting new features aimed at increasing engagement, such as the “For You” tab. Inside this tab, users will find local restaurant recommendations based on what is trending in the immediate vicinity. Google will also be added a “match score” created with machine learning, to identify which places a user prefers based on their local geo-footprint and their past search behavior. This is designed to provide recommendations users will enjoy.

Businesses will also have more options to create user engagement with their Maps profile – where they now have Events, Google Posts, and Offers, there will also be the option to add more video, and include calls to action for booking appointments or ordering online.

Google Lens will also boost efforts because it won’t be hiding inside Google Assistant and Google Photos. With the increased functionality, we’ll now have smart text selection, style match, and real-time results, so customers can get more from their search results before choosing which establishment to interact with.

Start with the Google Knowledge Panel

If you don’t already have a Google My Business account, you need one right now. It’s what allows you to have control over how your business displays in Google’s search results when people are searching for you. However, it’s important to know that Google says simply verifying your business does not guarantee that it will appear in an outage panel. While verifying your business is important, concentrate on offering your customers the best possible service.

Google’s Knowledge Panel will offer a lot of information if you are able to show up on it. When you search for a business, you may see information regarding that searched Topic in a box that appears on the right side of the search results. This is known as the knowledge panel and is instrumental in helping customers to discover and reach your business. Inside the knowledge panel, customers will be able to find things like your website, directions, operating hours and more.

It’s also possible Google will include your business in a broad or knowledge panel that will suggest businesses that are in the neighborhood. You could be featured as part of a few listings with your reviews. Customers can then read more about your business by clicking on it.

Whether or not your business is featured in the relevance, and your business Providence. For instance, if someone is searching for a coffee shop and you are not a coffee shop in the area, you won’t show up in the knowledge panel.

The best way to have any kind of control over the information that is displayed is to make sure your Google my business profile is verified. Google often uses this source for information when putting together its knowledge panels. Make sure the information is not only current but is as complete as possible.

Look at Your Google My Business Timeline

Start monitoring your Google My Business Timeline. Google has now released the Q&A feature that allows people to ask questions about your business. However, business owners don’t get notified. This is why it is an important feature to pay attention to. Many of your prospective customers are already reaching out to you so all you need to do is respond.

Encourage Your Customers to Leave Reviews for Your Business on Their Preferred Platform

While encouraging customers to leave reviews on Google is important, it is not the only platform where people will leave reviews for your business. Instead of pushing one platform over the other, advertise several different options and allow your customers to choose the one they want to use. Focus on providing absolutely stellar customer service and you may find your customers are leaving reviews for your business on multiple platforms.

Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for reviews. Make sure that you are paying attention to the best review sites for your locality or your niche. For instance, if you are in the construction or interior design niche, you may be better served by having your customers review your products and services on Porch, Angie’s List, and Houzz.

Use a Custom Trackable Link to Provide Directions to Your Business

Do you need to provide directions to help customers find your location? Create a custom link and place it on your contact page, footer, and Confirmation emails. When someone clicks the link to your driving directions, it is considered an engagement signal which will help boost your overall ranking and improve your SEO.

Automate Engagement With Your Prospects

Use a service like Zapier to set up your major search terms. Set up a zap so that when anyone mentions the keywords in a certain radius of your location, you can tweet them a coupon or a discount to encourage them to visit your business.

Wrap-Up

The tips provided in this blog post will only be helpful to you if your website is easy for your Target audience to use. It’s important to remember that not everyone has the same computer skills and if you make navigating your website difficult for your users, they will choose someone else. Feel free to reach out with to us today to discuss your options for improving your local SEO in and around the Denver area.


How Can I Target Multiple Cities With the Same Website?

Local SEO

Part of building the best, most useful website is making sure it reaches your entire customer base. SEO is a wonderful tool to help you do that, particularly local SEO keywords that target your customer base. If yours is a small business operating within a region that spans multiple cities, it may have occurred to you that potential customers are conducting web searches for services in their city specifically. Thus, including a city name in an SEO keyword is often a good idea.

But this raises an issue. You don’t want to alienate members of one city by focusing on another. You want all your site’s content to reach everyone. How can you optimize your site for the multiple cities within your region?

Create Individual Location Pages

When you claim a location with Google My Business, it’s essential to create a landing page for that location to link back to. You should also make sure the location landing page links to the Google My Business location page. Ensure that your landing pages are exceptional by including tags in various places throughout – this will increase their visibility to search engines.

These pages should not be carbon copies of each other, with nothing but the name of the city changed. Google catches on to that, and it might even end up harming your SEO. Instead, try to come up with ways to differentiate the pages that specifically focus on the city in question. There are a number of ways to do that:

  • Cultural touchstones. Reference something everyone in town knows about, like a local sports team or a popular museum. It doesn’t need to be relevant to the product you’re selling. It’s just a good way of letting the city’s residents know that you really did create this page with them in mind; that it’s not just a copy/paste job.
  • City history. Go back to the founding of the town. Even a casual reference to this can let page readers know you really are writing for them.
  • Common problems. What issues do residents of the city face? Is it cold there? Is it hard to grow plants? Is there something your company can do to help?
  • Find the way you relate. No matter what else there is to say about the town, there’s a reason your business serves them so successfully. Even if that reason isn’t unique to them, you can build on it and use it to explore things that are. For example, Firestarter SEO helps companies build a successful online presence. We might choose to use a city landing page to congratulate residents on the number of successful small businesses in their town before moving on to what we can offer.

Linking to Your Landing Pages

Your landing pages should not stand alone. Integrating them with the rest of your website is absolutely crucial. You can do this by mutually linking your page with other local and relevant sites, which will generate more traffic for both your site and theirs, and by ensuring that your site contains internal links that take visitors to the landing pages.

Your landing pages should also be developed with informative and concise anchor text. Anchor texts lets both search engines and users with an overview of what to expect from the page. Therefore, it’s important to include the target keyword you want to rank and the location you’re trying to target in the anchor text.

Additional Tips for Local SEO Targeting

If your business does not have a brick and mortar location, it’s worth considering registering an address in a city or town you wish to rank for so that Google and other search engines will spot your business name in association with that location. This might be a good strategy if you live adjacent to a large city. However, use caution. If you register multiple addresses, Google could decide you’re misrepresenting your business and penalize your SEO.

Another handy little trick is geotargeting every piece of content you post. When you upload a photo to your homepage, tag it with the name of the city as well as a description of what it shows. When you geotag each piece of content, your city name is suddenly layered much more densely throughout your website.

Targeting multiple cities on your website is an important and delicate part of your SEO strategy. If you’re giving local SEO a try and want the benefit of years of experience at your back, contact Firestarter SEO today.


How to Get Your Website in the Google Answers Box

Google is constantly changing the way their search engine results display in an effort to provide a better user experience for their users. More and more queries are providing Solutions directly within the search results page rather than taking you to another website. Known in the industry as “ranking zero” or “position zero”, when your website comes up in the featured Snippets or the answers box for a query, you are liable to see a dramatic increase in your traffic. So, even though there are lots of websites competing for that spot, if you know what you’re doing, you can land your website there.

Three different types of content are presented in the Google Answers Box:

Paragraph

Table

List

This list result is further down the page because four ads are presented at the top before the actual results start.

When your website lands in the answer box, people are going directly to your content and that content serves as a teaser to what else they can find on your website. Users become invested in your content and brand before they even have the chance to know who you are. Google has a patent on the answer box so it’s likely won’t see it anywhere else for an extended period of time. Because what land you there is algorithmic, it is possible, though somewhat difficult depending on the keyword phrase, to get your website in that spot.

Here are a few different strategies to help you, but before we get started, let’s take a closer look at why the Answer Box has become such as competitive space.

Why is the Google Featured Snippet So Competitive?

When you’re the first result on a page without an answer box, you’ll get a click-through rate of anywhere between 25% to 30%, on average. But, when you’re number one on a page with an answer box – and you’re not the answer in the box – that won’t bump you down the page too much – but it will dramatically affect your click-through rate – dropping it to anywhere between 15% to 20%.

Let’s transfer that to dollars with a hypothetical. Let’s say you have a 1% conversion rate at $100 per sale, based on that low end 25% click-through rate. If that query gets 2,000 searches a month – that means you’re getting 500 clicks. And of that 500 clicks, 5 people will make a $100 purchase, giving you $500 a month.

But when the answer box comes in, and you’re not in it, you’re now only getting 300 clicks per month, which is costing you $200 a month – if your conversion rate stays the same. That’s almost half the revenue difference – and that’s on a relatively small scale. Imagine what it could do to someone with millions of clicks and hundreds of thousands of conversions?

Start with a Strong SEO Foundation

Most of the time, the site where you see the answer in the answer box is the number one result, but not always. One thing we know though, it’s always ranked within the top five for whatever the query may be. As such, your site needs to be there, too, and if you want to knock the others down, you’ll at least 1,000, if not more high quality referring domains. This means creating content that’s worthy of others linking to it. But, beyond that, you’ll also need to have a high level of engagement on the specific page you’re trying to get ranked in the Answer Box.

You’ll also need high value content that’s fewer than 2,000 words in length. The more relevant your information, the more value it offers, and the more updated your website is, the better. But, if it fails at basic optimization tasks such as being optimized for mobile devices, none of the rest of your SEO work will matter. More than half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices – so if you haven’t already, make sure you’re using the Mobile-Friendly tool to see if your website is mobile friendly. Even if it is, Google can still provide some suggestions to help you improve the user experience. When your website helps Google provide a quality user experience for the searchers, Google will thank you with an improved ranking.

Go After Low-Hanging Fruit: Find Questions Without Answer Boxes

The search engine results page will only have one answer box, so if you already see one for a query you’d like to get your results in, you’ll have a much harder fight – especially if you’re not already ranking in the top five for that phrase – getting into that answer box than if you were trying to rank for a question that doesn’t have an answer box at all yet. Though it’s a bit harder to find pages without answer boxes, you can still use a variety of keyword research tools to help you find them.

If you’re up for the challenge of trying to knock a current result out of place – you’ll have to start with a bit of competitive audit, to make sure you know exactly what you’re up against. You’ll need to see how many backlinks the current answer has in place, how many referring domains, and most importantly, how well the content answers the question. Then, you’ll have to make sure your content is better, you have more backlinks and more referring domains. You’ll see the process won’t happen overnight, and you’ll have to closely monitor ranking changes because you don’t know how many other websites are also making an effort to knock an answer out of place to try to get their own site there.

Edit Your Old Content with the Answer Box in Mind

Whether you’re going back to refresh some old content, or writing new content, always keep the answer box in mind. Nothing that’s valuable, well written, or informative will ever detract from content you write specifically for the Answer Box. Most people who are going to your website are doing so to find the answer to a question, whether they’re given the answer directly in the search results page or not. If they’re not directly searching for an answer to a question, they’re at least searching for a solution to one of their pain points.

Start with that answer or solution and work backward. Creating content that way ensures the overall content doesn’t suffer and increases your chances of landing in the Google Answer Box from the beginning.

Find Entities to Structure Your Content

Entities can be considered a type of keyword. While Google has a rather complex definition of what an entity is, it’s basically people and places. Like in the screenshot above, actor and comedian Jim Carrey is considered an entity. When you create content around an entity, but you use related keywords with it, you’re creating the ideal situation for Google.

Google is able to learn more about how the keywords you’re using relate to what you’re saying, thanks to topic modeling. This helps them figure out what’s most relevant to the user based on their search query, allowing the best results to rank higher, while pushing the low-quality results further away from users.

Improve Your Answer Score

Though we’ll never know exactly how the Google algorithm works, we know it looks for what it calls “Answer Elements.” It scores yours, and all other content, based on those. If the best answer to the question is in a paragraph, that’s the paragraph that will make it to the answer box. If you can provide more detail than the paragraph, you’re providing Google with more answer elements, thus improving your answer score.

Depending on the nature of the question and it’s natural answer, you’ll see answers that feature step-by-step directions, images, and tables of data. Google considers all elements of an answer, so the more you have, the better. If you include data, statistics, or graphs at the end of your answer, you’re making improvements to your Google Answer Score. When you take the time to answer questions that supplement larger questions, you’re making even more improvements.

Though it seems like it could be overwhelming to choose one of these tactics to focus on, the best way to get your site in the featured snippet is to work on all of them. Yes, you can do them one at a time, but it will slow down the speed of your overall progress. Create a plan of attack that starts small, focusing on the most popular unanswered questions your content can answer, and then work up from there.


Always Greener: A Case Study of Success in a Competitive Market

Background

Firestarter SEO serves a growing landscaping company in the Denver area.  This client provides landscaping design and sprinkler installation and repair to both residential and commercial properties.  One of the foremost challenges lay in their competitive landscape. There is no shortage of sprinkler or landscaping companies in Denver.  This kind of market saturation typically indicates a longer period of time before results are really seen, depending on the starting point of the campaign.

Fortunately, while the competition certainly had a head start, it was clear that their strategies had not heavily involved SEO.  Keyword targeting on their site was decent, but not stellar. Their link landscapes were also very mediocre, as evidenced by the table below.  Bottom line: there was a significant opportunity.


Beyond those first page rankings, there were a quality number of keywords ranked on the 2nd – 5th pages.  These did have search volume, and represented our opportunity keywords for this campaign.  When the client initially reached out to us, there were several first page rankings.  However, further research showed that very few of these top-ranked keywords actually had any search volume.  At Firestarter SEO, these are often what we call “junk keywords,” as it feels great seeing yourself at the top of that search, but the absence of any search volume means it won’t really benefit your business by targeting it.

  • Page 1: 27 (3 of which had any search volume)
  • Page 2: 10 (5 with search volume)
  • Pages 3-5: 6 (3 with search volume)

Their search traffic wasn’t ideal – with 103 organic visitors in the first month of the campaign and 0 conversions.  Ultimately, the goal was to increase traffic and conversions in order to help scale their business.

The Strategy

The start of the strategy was very clear from the beginning: we needed to implement a better keyword strategy.  As evidenced by the lack of search volume for keywords they had targeted, we needed to identify search terms that were relevant, had quality intent, and search volume.  This would lay the entire foundation for the strategy moving forward.

From a technical standpoint, the site was fairly sound, with a small number of errors needing correction.  Their link landscape, however, was non-existent. There were no external links, and very few internal links throughout the site.  Link acquisition, therefore, would be an immediate priority for our campaign.

Finally, in order to expedite results and increase the effectiveness of the campaign, we began a PPC campaign after a couple months of service.  Doing so allowed us to maximize visibility for our target keywords, and also generate quick results for the client.

SEO process of accumulation

The client saw an initial bump in results after implementing basic SEO elements with the new keyword strategy.  In the 3rd month of the campaign, they received 74 Organic calls and 29 calls from PPC.  A key benefit of running both SEO and PPC was the maximized exposure.  From a sheer numbers perspective, if a client is running PPC for a keyword and shows up at the top of the SERP, and also ranks on the first page for the same keyword, their exposure and credibility skyrockets.  As Boostability explains, this is a powerful combination.

Links remained a significant element in our strategy.  As a local SEO campaign, directories played a big role.  We also utilized guest posts for relevant sites as well. The ongoing application of links, on-site optimization, and content continued driving rankings, increasing traffic, and boosting quality leads on a monthly basis.

Final results/successes

Our client’s campaign has been one of ongoing, consistent growth.  SEO & PPC have become a cornerstone of their marketing strategy due to the tremendous success of the campaign.  At the time of writing, there were 17 keywords with 1st-page rankings, and 23 with 2nd-page rankings. Organic Traffic for the previous month sat at 1,096 – a 964% increase from the first month of service.  All of this leads to the crowning statistic of the campaign: 206 conversions in one month, with 190 phone calls.

Thanks to SEO & PPC, they have been able to grow significantly, and scale their business in a way they never thought possible.


Hitting The Links: How Link Building Transformed a Golf Client

Firestarter SEO provides monthly services to a company offering premier golf instruction to people throughout the United States.  With a focus on individual training versus group instruction, their mission is to provide personalized, first-rate training from professionals who boast over 350 years of collective golf experience.

The Starting Point

In October 2014, the client reached out to Firestarter SEO to see how they could improve their online visibility.  They had a big vision for the growing company, but didn’t know how to bridge the gap to reach that vision. At the time, our client’s rankings looked like this:

  • Rank #1-3: 4 Keywords
  • Rank #4-10: 34 Keywords
  • Page 2: 21 Keywords
  • Pages 3-5: 22 Keywords
  • Not in top 5 pages: 13 Keywords

They were getting just over 800 visits per month to the site from organic traffic.

The Strategy

In the beginning of the campaign, a relatively standard strategy was pursued.  This involved a combination of on-site optimization (implementing target keywords in titles, descriptions, alt tags, etc.), technical seo (resolving crawl errors), and off-site optimization. Within the first month of service, rankings began climbing – evidencing the power of simply getting the basics right.

Further into the campaign, most technical issues and on-site optimization had been resolved.  At this point, they had seen steady growth, though they were beginning to plateau in both their rankings and their traffic.  (See Charts below)

After reviewing the data, a determination was made to pivot the strategy going forward.  The strategy would revolve almost entirely around link building.

It is crucial to understand the parameters used for targeting quality & organic links, as they played a large role in the success of the campaign.

    • Relevance – First and foremost in determining which links to pursue was relevance.  In many cases, quality opportunities presented themselves with more generic sites, but they were overturned by sites relevant to the golf world.  
    • Type – Acquiring a wide variety of link types was also important, as it introduced a diverse portfolio of links for Bird Golf.  Some of the link types are below:
      • Press Releases – A press release served as a valuable tool for times when the client would introduce its services at a new premium golf course, or in a new state.
      • Guest Posts – Many opportunities presented themselves for guest posting.  With simple manual outreach, multiple guest posts were acquired as a result.
      • Sponsorships & Events – With a wide array of golf-related events, and an almost countless number of golf-related businesses, sponsorships were easy to come by.  These were great ways to improve awareness while still capturing the link value.
    • Authority – An ideal link would involve a highly relevant site to the golf world, which was also very authoritative in terms of Domain Authority.  Of particular note was in most cases, relevance trumped domain authority in the targeting of a link.
    • The Eye Test – The final factor in the evaluation of link opportunities was the eye test.  We would simply ask ourselves “Would our client be proud of a link to this site?”  Boiling it down further, if a site looked and felt valid, legitimate, and at least somewhat quality, we would consider it worthy. 

With all these parameters in place, outreach efforts began and the link building strategy was underway.

Results

Upon implementation, results came slowly.  This was a test of the principle that SEO is truly a process of accumulation.  Sure enough, a few months into the process, rankings began to climb further. As we remained consistent with our efforts, the client’s rankings continued to soar.  In November of 2016 – 2 years after beginning the campaign – they ranked on the first page for 94 different keywords, nearly tripling their 1st page rankings from the start of the campaign.

It got better.  Over the next one and a half years, links remained a constant in their campaign.  The result was more of the same. Traffic improved, with organic traffic increasing by over 40% compared to the previous year.  The rankings continued shooting up. Final Rankings at the time of writing were as follows:

  • Rank #1-3: 82 Keywords – Increase of 78 from the start
  • Rank #4-10: 41 Keywords – Increase of 7 from the start
  • Page 2: 19 Keywords – Decrease of 2 from the start
  • Pages 3-5: 7 Keywords – Decrease of 15 from the start
  • Not in top 5 pages: 6 Keywords – Decrease of 7 from the start

The evidence was resounding – 123 rankings on the first page, more than 3 times as many compared to the start of the campaign.  While rankings continue to grow, link building remains the core of the campaign, as it has served as the unquestionable catalyst to our client’s success.


Does Blogging Help Your Company’s SEO?

Whether you’ve already got a business blog in place or you’re debating getting one started, you’ve probably asked yourself if you’re making the right decisions. The truth is that while a well-run blog is an invaluable asset to your company, a stagnant or improperly managed blog might be holding you back. As in every aspect of your business, you want to make sure you’re getting the most return out of the effort you’re putting into your blog. One of the most vital ways to do that is by examining its impact on your website’s SEO.

How Often Should You Blog?

Experts agree that when it comes to making the most of your business blog, posting more frequently is a good decision. The goal is to create a resource that offers your customers regular updates, so they have a reason to keep coming back. However, as with any resource, it’s important to be mindful of the quality and diversity of your content. The best way to build readership is by providing a variety of substantive, interesting content. Don’t fall into the trap of blogging about insignificant or irrelevant topics just to fill a spot on the calendar.

Blogging less frequently will provide you with a slower growth rate in readership, but that might be the right fit for your company. Consider how much time and energy you want to devote to your blog. A few blogs a month might be a better choice for you than blogging every day, even though the latter is likely to grow your readership at a much faster rate. Specifically research shows that the impact of blog posts tends to grow most successfully when you post four or more blogs per month, with website traffic increasing exponentially the more often you post after that. Whatever you decide, remember to prioritize consistent posting and quality content, and your blog should thrive.

How Does Blogging Help Your SEO Ranking?

SEO is all about showing search engines that your site is the best answer to the questions your customers ask. But how does a blog help with that?

  • Frequent updates. If you’re managing your blog correctly, it should be the part of your website that gets new content most often. That does more than keep your customers coming back – although their repeat visits are a crucial component to strengthening your SEO. It also alerts search engines to the fact that your website is a going concern. Google analytics show that frequent updates directly correspond to higher SEO rankings.
  • As previously mentioned, broad readership and repeat visits to your blog increase your overall SEO. That’s because search engines analyze things like how many times a post of yours is shared as part of the algorithm to determine your SEO. Getting your words in front of an audience is tremendously valuable to you.
  • Keyword use. While blogs are often built around a keyword or phrase, good blogs incorporate these terms in a way that sounds like natural speech. This is a good strategy, because that tends to be the way people phrase their internet searches as well. If your blog contains a phrase that matches a search term someone uses, that’s a huge boost to your SEO.

Think about the ways in which potential customers might be searching for you online. What questions do they have? Your blog should be arranged as an answer to a question. Try to keep a natural voice when you write, and let your content flow.

What Makes Great Blog Content?

Your blog is not the place to advertise. Potential customers won’t return to your site to read a series of ads about the services you provide. Instead, you want to put together meaningful content that they can benefit from. A great blog serves as an informative and relevant resource.

Do your research. The last thing you want to do is give your customers information that’s out of date or just plain wrong. Make sure you have the facts straight, and cite sources (providing links is a great boost for your SEO!) Make sure, as well, that the topics you choose to write about are newsworthy. You don’t want to produce a blog that just tells people something they already know.

Your next order of business is to create a voice and tone for your company. Think about who your customers are and how you want to speak to them. You would address a crowd of millennials differently than you would baby boomers, and the way you write should reflect that. No matter who you’re writing for, keep it functional but friendly. Create a relatable tone that people will want to read, but make sure you’re still imparting great information.

Be mindful of the fact that many internet users don’t sit and read entire articles online—they skim. In fact, over half of your blog’s visitors will probably scroll through without stopping to read what you’ve written word for word. That’s okay! Make the most of scanners’ short attention spans by using descriptive headings and bulleted lists to catch the eye.

Get Started Blogging Today

Having a blog that’s regularly updated will be a boon to your business! If you need help getting started or are looking for top-notch writers who can provide you with content while you focus on other aspects of your business, contact Firestarter SEO today.


Topic Modeling 101 for SEO

Over the years, Google’s approach to ranking websites has changed dramatically. In the beginning, it was as simple as stuffing as many keywords as you possibly could in the meta tag. These keywords didn’t have to have a single bit of relevance to your website, and you could rank number one for nearly any search query with relative ease.

As Google’s algorithms got smarter, the meta tag lost its weight in ranking, and less emphasis is placed on keyword density. Now, it’s all about crafting content that is valuable to readers, written naturally for them. While the keyword still plays a role in ranking, it is much less important than it has been in the past.

While we don’t really know, and never will, exactly how Google ranks content – because their algorithms are hidden under lock and key with plenty of legal protection to keep them safe – we, as an industry, have learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t, through trial and error, and listening to what Google tells us directly impact rankings. (When Google says something about changes you need to make to your website to keep or improve your rankings – you listen.)

In today’s rapidly evolving SEO industry, how can you be sure you’re creating content your viewers will love to read, but that will also keep the search engines happy? The answer lies in Topic Modeling.

What is Topic Modeling?

Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI, has been part of the Google ranking factors since the Hummingbird update in 2013. If you’re not already familiar with the term, it involves not just the words that make up your content, but the context of those words. And, it looks at the user’s search intent, and that relationship to specific keywords. Put simply, LSI helps search engines find related keywords and process synonyms to deliver more accurate results. It uses TF*IDF, or term frequency times inverse document frequency, to determine how important a specific word or phrase is to a document.

Though we’re five years out from the update that shook rankings and many websites have recovered, topic modeling can be considered an extension, or a type of LSI. It’s incredibly important to how your website ranks in Google (and other search engines) today, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

Basically – you can’t frame your content around a single keyword phrase anymore. You need to start with the core phrase, and use other sources to create topic clusters, also known as keyword clusters, to flesh out a piece of content. And, those topic clusters will change depending on user intent.

User Intent

Research shows searcher intent can be broken into two segments. Users are looking for specific information related to the keywords they’ve used, or they’re looking for general information about the topic.

You can split intentions based on how specific the searcher is, and how exhaustive the searcher is. Queries can generally be broken down based on:

  • Navigational – trying to get to a certain website
  • Informational – trying to get some kind of information
  • Transactional – trying to buy something, or perform another specific online activity

Keeping user intent in mind with what your website goals are will help you choose the right keywords to target in the first place.

How to Create Topic Clusters for SEO

Start with your core keyword phrase. Search in Google. For instance, this article, could have the core keyword phrase: topic modeling for SEO.

Look at Google’s related searches at the bottom of the results page. This gives you an idea of other keyword phrases to include in your content.

On certain searches, you’ll also find a People Also Ask section.

You can use this to determine whether you should include more information on the page, or if you should answer other questions on additional pages of content. Hint – for an idea about which way to go, check and see what the highly ranked competition is doing. If they’ve answered all the questions on the same page, do it that way – but answer them better. Add more information and value. If they’ve not answered the questions on the page, answer them, and be thorough. Google, and your readers, will thank you.

These of course are not the only tools you can use to help build your topic clusters and models. You can start with a keyword research tool like ubersuggest to give you an idea of the search volume of your core keyword phrase and other similar phrases with lower competition. However, you must go beyond basic keyword research tools and related keywords. Tools like market news and article insights are good because they take the main keyword you’re targeting and provide you with groups of words you should aim to include.

Let’s say your main keyword is “what to sell online”. Ubersuggest gives you phrases like:

Best goods to sell online

Best ecommerce products to sell

Apps to sell stuff

And so on.

These are related phrases you can work into your content, but you still need to dig a little deeper.

Running the main phrase “what to sell online” through Article Insights will give you topic buckets of words and phrases that should naturally occur in your content if you want to rank well for that keyword.

It will also show you what the competition looks like, so you can be sure you’re doing better than the content they provide. You can paste your content into Article Insights to see how well your content matches up to the recommendations, and how it stacks up against the competition.

To make sure you’re really going in depth, you can also run related keywords from your research in Article Insights.

Credit: MarketMuse Overview

MarketMuse is a similar tool that helps you see how you can rank for all searches related to your business – not just the keywords. By focusing on this approach, you can cover topics, and not just the keywords.

Examples of Topic Modeling and How They Affect SEO

Take for example, actress turned singer, Selena Gomez. When you search for her using just her name, Google doesn’t know which context you’re trying to find information on, and presents news stories, her official website, Instagram, and YouTube.

But when you alter the search to provide more context, by adding acting to the end of the phrase, you get entirely different search results, including her IMDb listing, an article discussing her return to acting, and a series of YouTube videos to show her first auditions for the Disney Channel. Though the box on the right show some information about her both, you’ll see the information there changes, too – including the photos, movies and TV shows she’s credited in, and more.

 

Because Google wants to improve the quality of results for their users, the context of a search has the power to change everything about it. Topic modeling allows you to hit on more than the core keyword, but a number of contextual clues, too.

How to Leverage Topic Modeling for Your SEO

Creating New content around topic models is the easy part because all you have to do is your keyword research and build your model then right. It’s optimizing old content with topic modeling that can be somewhat daunting. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea, don’t worry. Simply start with an audit of your content and work methodically.

Build an inventory of all the pages on your website in a spreadsheet, if you don’t already have one. Include each page URL on its own row.  Along with the URL, include the user intent, focus topic, and any notes about the quality of the piece. This will help you determine which pages you need to focus on first,  and which ones can wait until later. Even if you’ve built your website around quality content, you can improve upon that quality by taking a deeper dive into the topic to create a more comprehensive piece. Take notes about where it ranks, and what the competition’s content looks like, so you have an idea of adjustments you can make in an effort to improve your rank.

Next, look at your on-page SEO factors, such as your headline, subheaders, and so on. Does the headline grab reader attention? Are keywords present where they need to be? What’s your linking structure like? Do you have outbound links to reliable sources? Are your related pages interlinked?

Check to make sure your content answers your readers’ questions – and does so well. If your content responds directly to a query, search engines will favor it – and it will increase your odds of landing in the Google Answers Box.

If you’re ready to learn more about how our Denver SEO agency can help your business grow with our topic modeling approach to SEO content, get in touch with us today to schedule your free consultation.


The Relationship Between SEO and Subdomains

Back in the late eighties and early nineties, the basics of the internet were being taught at schools across the United States. It required a phone line and complex understanding of various search engines. All websites needed the world wide web before the name. Since this time, technology has advanced and websites are no longer tied down by the old school rules. In modern times, it’s important to understand the concept of subdomains and when it’s appropriate for your business to use them.

What is a Subdomain?

Every website URL is broken into different parts. In order to understand subdomains, all parts of the website name need to be clear. Looking at our site name: www.firestarterseo.com, you can see three parts, each separated by a period (or dot).  The top level of the domain name or TLD is the .com. On other sites, the TLD might be .net, .gov, .org, or a number of other names. The next part is the SLD (second level domain) on our site and most websites are the name of the company or website. The TLD follows the dot right after the SLD. It is often called the extension.

The part of the website that comes before the SLD is called the subdomain. In the case of our site, and many others, the www is the subdomain. So you can see that the general structure of the URL is as follows: subdomain.SLD.TLD.

You may have been taught all websites need to start with www (world wide web) to be accessible, but that isn’t true. SLD’s can proceed with almost any word. Using a subdomain can save you from having to purchase a new domain name.

When Should You Use a Subdomain?

Now that you know that you don’t need that standard www in front of every website address, it’s tempting to toss out all the www in your site and replace them with snazzy new names like dinosaurs.firestarterseo.com or bananas.firestarterseo.com. Subdomains can take the place of the subdirectory (that would be the part that comes after the TLD to direct you to the specific part of the site, like the word “blog” in  www.firestarterseo.com/blog. Subdomains give a cleaner look to the web address (blog.firestarterseo.com vs.www.firestarterseo.com/blog).

However, just because you have the power to change your subdomain doesn’t mean you always should. Subdomains are best used when setting up a parallel site to your main site. If you’re running a store, it makes sense to add “store” as your subdomain rather than running it as your subdirectory. This will leave you with shorter subdirectories in the future too.  In the made-up site store.bananasanddinosaurs.com/monkeyfood the subdirectory will focus on the items rather than the longer www.bananasanddinosaurs.com/store/monkeyfood.

Another reason to use a unique subdomain name is to cater to different regions. If your company has different locations across the country or even globally, you can utilize subdomains for those various locations like such as colorado.bananasanddinosaurs.com or sacramento.bananasanddinosaurs.com to differentiate between location sites.

Is a Domain Name Important for SEO?

It seems that there is an eternal argument about how subdomains affect SEO. Many people argue that the subdomain name helps SEO because you can use keywords as your subdomain, leading to search engines pulling your site up more. Many others have argued that it does the opposite and it will hurt your SEO. Both sides have evidence to support their views, but how do you know which one to listen to?

The Pros of a Subdomain

Subdomains can work with SEO to increase your traffic if used properly. With proper use, subdomains can help your SEO by inserting keywords into URLs, improving user experience, and growing a niche authority.

  • Improving User Experience: Sometimes large sites are hard to use and confusing to those trying to access them. Subdomains organize the chaos and make it easier for users to find what they are looking for. If they can find what they need, it’s easier and more enticing for them to come back.
  • Growing Niche Authority: A niche market is less work than building a large-scale authority. Using subdomains builds smaller and smaller markets, resulting in you building your “grand authority” without as much work.
  • Pump Up Search Results: If you’ve watched the Olympics, you’ll see that the countries that have more athletes in each competition have a greater chance of going home with medals. Subdomains can help you in that same way. The more subdomains you have, the more likely you are to appear in the search results.

The Cons of a Subdomain

The pros may have sold you, but hold off on changing all your domain names. There is a downside to subdomains that must be considered.

  • Viewed as separate sites: When using a subdomain, you basically create a separate website, yes, you went from one website to two. This can limit your SEO for both sites. Rather than working together, the sites are now fighting for rankings and hurting each other and in the end hurting you. This is a significant problem because your SEO isn’t cumulative. PageRank is an algorithm that assesses a website’s merit based on its topical relevance and its authority as measured through links and citations, and by splitting your domains, you’re also dividing your PageRank, devaluing your own site. For example, if your homepage has a PageRank of 8 and your blog has a PageRank of four, putting the blog on a separate domain would give it a PageRank of 0 + whatever value is passed from the linking page AND if you have a 301 redirect from the old blog page. The PageRank would not be shared the same way as before.
  • Doesn’t add to your total pages: The more pages your site has, the more opportunities your site has to rank. Using a subdomain shares your page count across the two sites, this could potentially lower your rankings.
  • Subdomains don’t help internal linking: All those beautiful internal links you’ve added to boost your SEO could be viewed as external links, hurting your SEO. Google relies heavily on link metrics, so it’s vital to use them in a way that benefits you.

What is the Solution?

While subdomains are appealing, incorporating them into your site is not a risk-free proposition. If you’re a newbie, then using subdomains can hurt. Just taking a portion of your website and turning into a subdomain won’t suddenly make you a Google sensation.

Google is improving its systems all the time. As it improves, many of the cons surrounding subdomains are disappearing. As Google improves and the cons surrounding subdomains decrease, the pros increase. However, it’s still important to be aware of how subdomains work and what you’re doing so you don’t get caught by surprise with an unpleasant SEO drop.

If you’re interested in exploring subdomains, you don’t need to go alone. An SEO specialist can advise you on the pros and cons of subdomains and help you proceed without ruining your SEO.

You don’t need to stumble around in the dark. We can light a fire and show you the way.