Jul 2022

What Are the Elements of a Professional-level Dental Website?

 

I.    Easy Navigation

94% believe easy navigation is the most important website feature.

Easy Website Navigation

For patients seeking information, it is frustrating to land on a website and not be able to find what you’re looking for. Effective dental website navigation makes navigating between pages easy and intuitive.

2.   Well-written content

The content on your website tells the story of your practice and what you have   to offer.

Well written content

When you think of dental websites, the content might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it’s crucial. Flawless content will make your dental practice appear trustworthy to prospective patients.

3. Quality Images

52% of digital marketing agencies cite visual images as a very important form of marketing for their customers.

Use Quality Images on your website

It is essential for trust-requiring businesses (Medical and Mental Health, Insurance, Financial, etc.,) to have quality images that complement the website’s content.

  *  Professional Headshots with bios

  *  Staff

  *  Photos of your Office

  *  Photos of your Waiting Room, Exam Room, etc.

4. Short videos

Use short videos on your website

One of the most efficacious elements of successful dental websites is high-quality professional images and video. Take original photos and videos if at all possible. Potential patients visiting your website will instantaneously understand more about your level of expertise and types of patients your attract. They will formulate their expectations and decide to book an appointment.

5. Clear Calls-to-Action (CTAs)

The ultimate benefit of your dental website is that it can convert visitors into patients.

Use obvious Calls-to-Action (CTA)

Calls-to-Action

Place prompts such as “Email Us” and “Book an appointment” prominently on every page of your website. It’s beneficial to include a variety of calls-to-action (CTAs) because not everyone wants to call you. Some would rather complete an online form or email.

6.   Responsive design

        * 294.15 million smartphone users in the United States.

* 85% of American adults use smartphones.

* 47% of web traffic in the U.S. originated from mobile devices.

       * 113 million iPhone users.

Responsive Design

 

Additional Suggested Dental Website Design Elements

 

Creative Services Pages

Additional Suggested Dental Website Design Elements

Creative Service Pages

Creative Services Pages

Building Trust

Build Trust

Building Trust

Advanced Trust Building – Patient Reviews/Commentaries

Customer Reviews

Insurance

Insurance

Insurance Coverage

Advanced Functionality – Online Scheduler

Online Scheduler

 

Jun 2022

Keyword Research and Strong Meta Header Tags & Meta Descriptions

If your website is not attracting the amount of traffic you’d like, a lack of keyword research and lack of or poorly written and organized Meta Data is the usual suspect.

  1. Meta Data
  2. Title Tags
  3. Header Tags
  4. Meta Descriptions

The first step in driving traffic to your website is to conduct thorough keyword research based on the words used by your ideal customers when they search for your products and/or services. That’s beating a dead horse at this point.  However, if you want Google to actually recognize your target keywords and present your website to those potential customers, you must optimize, that is, weave those targeted keywords into your site’s pages and be clever about it.

Meta Data. Think of it as a Table of Contents. When Google wants to know what a webpage is about, they take a read through , crawl, the table of contents in search of keywords that match search queries. Of the three elements of meta data, your title tag is the most important to Google, hence, the most important to everyone who matters. Here’s an example of the connection between a potential customer’s search intent and your title tag.

If someone is in the market for a design/build contractor in Miami, for example, and enters those keywords in a search:

search engines begin to search for websites that contain these keywords within their title tags. After all, what good is a search engine if it doesn’t find what I’m searching for.

  • Note that the keywords “Residential Design/Build…” are underlined and highlighted along with the company name. This is the site’s homepage title tag.
  • Note also that the keywords are BOLDED within the meta description (we’ll get to this later).
  • Final note on title tags: Although there isn’t a direct correlation between keyword-rich title tags and first place rankings on Google, if you search any competitive keyword or keyword phrase on Google, almost all of the top ranking results use exact keywords in their title tags. Idk
  • Final, final note: keep title tags under 60 characters, 55 characters is best.

Speaking of reading a text, all the best students know how to read quickly and efficiently. They never ever read a textbook straight through. The best ones use the SQ3R method or one similar to it. They read the title, then go through reading “Headings” and “Subheadings” to understand the structure and purpose of the text. Google is an excellent reader. Think of the H1 heading tag as you would the heading of a chapter in a textbook and the H2 as an important but subordinate subheading ( there’s also H3, H4, H5, H6, etc., but they are pretty insignificant as far a search engines are concerned). The H1 and H2 headings should be on each page of a website. They serve as the title of the page visible to both search engines and visitors. They inform both Google and visitors about the purpose and structure of the page. It makes sense, therefore, to “naturally” wrap these headers tags in the same keywords used in the title tag.  It adds a flow factor to the reading.

A friendly reminder – one size does not fit all. You do not optimize a website. You optimize each page of the site. Each page should have  its own distinct title tag, header tags, and meta description. If they do not, the site is perfectly positioned to get dinged in the head by Google for duplicate content, a BIG no-no. We must agree. Who enjoys reading the same content over and again?

Finally, Meta Descriptions, shh! It’s a secret. Meta descriptions cannot be seen on a website page or within a browser. It appears in search results under the title tag and URL. A meta description is the block of text that describes the content visitors will find on the corresponding webpage.

The keywords included in meta descriptions, those BOLDED, are not ranking factors. They do, however, match the keywords used by users in their search query. They can, therefore, be used to direct traffic to your website thereby increasing your site’s click through rate (CTR), another important Google ranking factor.

Take-Home Message

It’s all about delivering value to the people who visit your website in search of information, services, or products. They are all looking for answers to solve an existing problem. Your job is to present valuable information that answers the call. If your site enhances the viewer’s experience, even just with heading tags and meta descriptions, this will lead to positive results for your company, the user, and the search engines.

By optimizing keywords into your website pages, it sends a signal to Google letting it know that your content is relevant, valuable, and trustworthy.

Final note, promise: If you do not write your own meta tags, Google will write them for you. They’re excellent readers but no so hot when it comes to writing.

 

Apr 2022

What You Need to Know About Link Building for Your Brand

Link Building for Your Brand

What Is Link Building?

Link building is the practice of acquiring links to your website from other websites. In SEO, these links are called backlinks. Getting backlinks from high-quality sites can pass authority to your site, as well as help you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

According to Google, an important part of identifying what pages are relevant and trustworthy is “understanding if other prominent websites link or refer to the content.”

Because of this, it’s important to consider link building when building an SEO strategy.

Why Is Link Building Important?

Say you have a great piece of content, but your website is fairly new and hasn’t earned much authority yet. Getting links from other trustworthy websites is a great way to help Google see your site as more authoritative.

Backlinks are essentially votes of confidence for your site.

And because pages with more backlinks often rank higher, it’s essential to:

  1. Create high-quality content worth linking to, and
  2. Use link building strategies to help bring in more backlinks

Since link building takes effort, starting the process of link building sooner rather than later will give you a bigger advantage over competitors and bring great benefits to your website in the long run.

How Does Link Building Work?

The best way to boost your authority through link building is to earn backlinks from credible, high-quality websites. If you have tons of backlinks but they are from spammy, irrelevant sites, they probably won’t help you rank any better.

There are many ways to acquire backlinks, including:

  • Guest blogging
  • Social media promotion
  • Manual outreach
  • Pursuing competitors’ backlinks

We’ll get into specific strategies shortly.

But keep in mind that backlinks aren’t everything—first and foremost, you should focus on creating useful, high-quality content.

When investigating ways to improve your rank, harnessing the power of link building can be a challenge for beginners and experienced professionals alike. However, it can be one of your most powerful tools for organic success.

Three Types of Links

When planning your link building strategy, it’s important to know the different types of links.

The most important types of links to know are below.

1. Nofollow vs. Follow 

Nofollow links are typically used when you want to link to another website but don’t want to tell Google to crawl that site. 

To designate a link as a nofollow link, you’ll need to add the attribute rel=”nofollow” into the link’s code. Nofollow links will inform Google that the link shouldn’t pass PageRank.

The nofollow link is helpful for two reasons:

  • When you need to link to a site but don’t want to endorse it
  • When the link is profitable. Google introduced rel=”sponsored” (and rel=”ugc”) as an additional type of backlink attribute, and prefers users use rel=”sponsored” for paid or profitable links (such as paid ads, banner ads, affiliate links, sponsored content) instead of rel=”nofollow”

Keep in mind, nofollow links don’t pass authority directly. However, they still can provide you with brand recognition and referral traffic.

Follow links, on the other hand, are regular links with attributes that would inform Google the link should pass PageRank.

You would use a follow link if you wanted to:

  • Pass on authority to a trusted website
  • Help search engine bots understand what the content is about

In short: Follow links signal to Google to crawl a website while nofollow links don’t. PageRank is the metric that helps Google monitor if a link is giving another website points or not.

2. Links from Users

Utilizing user-generated links as a tactic for link building is not the ideal route when you’re looking to up your SEO strategy. In the past, Google penalized those who tried user-generated linking.

User-generated links are sometimes created by you with the intent to promote your own work. They are also generally lower in quality than other link building methods that Google prefers.

Some examples of links from users include:

  • Unmoderated blog comments
  • Embedded infographics and widgets
  • Profile pages of users
  • Press releases or guest post signatures with heavily optimized anchor text
  • Advertisements

Links from these sources won’t hurt your site, but it’s generally not a good idea to spend time on this strategy since these types of links probably won’t pass any authority.

3. Natural Links From Other Blogs Or Sites

Natural links occur more organically from readers who come across your website including a link on their blog or website without being asked. With this link type, you don’t ask other webmasters or users to give you a backlink.

Most natural links don’t live in sponsored or paid content and are also without tracking parameters. They are usually added within another blogger’s or webmaster’s content with the intent to provide value to their readers.

This means you are more likely to see natural links in videos, blog posts, images, and other product listings on someone’s website.

Having a natural link back to your website is by all means considered a “good link” and has been dubbed one of the safest link building techniques. Natural links are also one of the best and most efficient ways to promote your blog or your website.

How to Successfully Build Links

1. Request Links

Outreach can take a lot of time and effort with little reward but can be more effective with the right tools.

If you are interested in getting a backlink from a particular website you know could help boost your website or page’s authority, chances are you will need to contact the website owner directly to make it happen.

But before you start requesting backlinks from all over the internet, keep a few things in mind:

  • Links you request should be from a website relative to your niche
  • Take the performance and credibility of the other website into account
  • Craft a well-written email before you start contacting site owners is helpful

To find prospects and manage your campaign, you can use a  Link Building Tool.

Link Building Tool let you add prospects to your campaign and organize your outreach efforts.

2. Manually Add Links

Manual link building refers to placing links yourself, whether that’s in a blog comment, on, a guest post on another site, or in a press release.

When adding links yourself, you’re typically in complete control of the outcome of the tactics, as opposed to relying on a journalist or other third party to link to your site.

That is precisely why these tactics are often known as “manual link building.” But keep in mind—links you are in control of usually aren’t the highest quality.

In the eyes of Google, any links that are not editorially placed are manipulative. You can manually add links editorially with intention, but it’s important not to spam links or add them randomly.

So, there’s no need to be afraid of manually adding links as long as it’s done thoughtfully.

This method of link building can drive benefits such as referral traffic or help to position you as a thought leader. It can also help you build your brand by interacting with users within your niche.

However, adding links on your own will not directly give you a significant competitive advantage. As with quick-win tactics, a strategy based around traditional link building is likely to be one that competitors can easily copy.

3. Earn Links

To gain a true competitive advantage through links, you should adopt a strategy that will allow you to earn editorially placed links.

Link earning requires a great amount of effort but gives the highest reward. So, be prepared to invest time and resources into earning links. In doing so, you will land links that competitors will struggle to replicate.

And let’s not forget that Google has been telling us for years, as part of their Webmaster Guidelines, that:

The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.

Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.

Google Webmaster Guidelines (Link Schemes)

When you earn a link, a third party actively decides to link to your website, meaning they are linking because they have a reason to. This adds value to their content and your site as a result.

You can use the Backlink Analytics tool to get an idea of what your competitors’ backlink profiles look like. Navigate to the Competitors tab to start your research and use this information to find opportunities for your own site.

Next, plug in a competitor into the tool to view the following:

  • Use the Anchors Report to find the most common anchor text used in their backlinks
  • Use the Referring Domains Report to see what domains are linking to their site and if they’ve recently won or lost any backlinks
  • Use the Indexed Pages Report to check which pages of your competitor’s website earned the most backlinks

Backlink Analytics Competitors Report

Strategies for Successful Link Building

Now for the fun part. There are many methods for proper link building, but some will prove more successful than most. 

Below is a variety of methods for building healthy backlinks from quality websites.

Create Linkable Assets

Linkable assets are pieces of content meant to attract links. A common type of linkable asset is an infographic—it’s a good strategy to present original research as a graphic to those in your niche.

Additionally, creating linkable assets is a great way to build brand awareness and garner social media attention.

Infographics are about 30 times more likely to be read than a full article, so creating accompanying linkable assets can close the gap for those who don’t want to read your full piece of content.

Present original research in easily digestible infographics to encourage backlinks and shares.

And you don’t need to be an expert graphic designer to create linkable assets. Even if you’re starting out or don’t have the budget for creative, you can use customizable templates from sites like PicMonkey or Canva.

Linkable assets are also a gateway for referral traffic—when shared on social media, your content may reach further audiences.

Speaking of which, let’s pivot to social media as a link building strategy.

Get Active on Social Media

An easy way to start building backlinks posting your content on social media. And once you’re armed with graphics and linkable assets, your chances of earning backlinks is likely to increase.

But don’t forget to be active on social media outside of sharing new posts, or you’ll be missing out on countless opportunities to spread brand awareness.

Even if you’re new to social media, you can get started easily:

  • Post news and updates about your brand
  • Engage with your audience in your comments
  • Respond to brand mentions
  • Participate in social media conversations within your niche

One way to encourage engagement with your users is to use polls as a conversation starter. It’s also a win-win, as it’s a way you can conduct audience research.

These are all good practices for increasing brand visibility on social media, which can lead to increased authority and possible backlinks.

You can also optimize your social media profiles and ensure they include the link make sure they link to your site in their bios.

Another helpful tactic is ensuring you tag brands and people of influence in your content when you talk about them. If they practice social listening, there is a good chance they will share the post or the link you shared on social media, which will help you generate a backlink from a profile other than your own.

Participate in Strategic Guest Posting

Google’s Matt Cutts announced the death of guest blogging in 2014, but is it really dead?

That’s a complex answer. The old way of guest blogging is certainly dead; it wouldn’t be a good idea to publish content on any sites that have low authority and have no relevance to your business just to get backlinks.

However, guest blogging can be a good way to earn links if done strategically. 

While it’s not the most scalable tactic, it could be beneficial to partner with a company in your industry to perform a case study or present the results of joint research.

If you get requests from people charging for guest posts on their site, this is an immediate red flag. Google is far too advanced to fall for these tactics these days, so it’s best to run in the other direction.

If you do see a good opportunity for a partnership for a case study, start by reaching out directly to the site owner and pitch your idea. Outreach for guest posts may not always pan out, but it can lead to increased traffics and backlinks when done right.

Utilize Broken Link Building

Even if you don’t have the time to create new content, broken link building allows you to capitalize on content that’s already on your site.

Search for broken external links on sites within your niche and reach out with a recommended piece of content from your site they can replace it with.

Start by navigating to Backlink Analytics and input a competitor’s domain. 

Head to the Indexed Pages report and check “Broken Pages” on the left hand side.

This shows you what broken pages on a particular site have backlinks pointing at them.

From here, find similar pages on your site and reach out to specific sites within your field.

Find Unlinked Brand Mentions 

Many businesses find themselves mentioned in the press from time to time, with some natural references and others coming about as a result of your PR team’s efforts.

It’s not uncommon for this coverage to have no link and to just be a brand mention, but it is often easy to see this turned into a link with only minimal effort. The hard work of securing coverage in the first place has already been done.

You can find brand mentions using the Brand Monitoring tool to receive notifications whenever someone mentions you but hasn’t linked to your site.

Backlinks for SEO
You can then politely email the person who mentioned you and ask them to add a link in, making sure you demonstrate how the link adds value to their readers—this will help make their decision easier. 
You won’t always get a link added, but for only minimal effort, those that you do manage to land with this tactic make it worth your while.

Replicate Competitors’ Backlinks

This tactic is nothing more than adopting and replicating the same link building strategy as competitors who are winning in the world of link building. We offer an in-depth guide on reverse engineering competitors’ backlinks, but we’ll get into the basics here.

Start by navigating to any Backlink Gap tool, and entering your domain and at least one of your competitors’ domains.

In the below example, you’ll see arrows pointing at the number of backlinks for competitor sites you aren’t getting backlinks from. Click the arrow to find specific sites.

If you find opportunities to pursue, click the blue “Start Outreach” button to add your findings to the Link Building tool.

If you can analyze what a competitor is doing well with their link building strategy, then you can use that same strategy to your advantage. You can also improve their strategy by filling in missed opportunities for acquiring backlinks.

Looking at competitors’ strategies may also help you discover how content similar to yours is performing in your niche market.

While it’s important to search for new link building opportunities, it can also be helpful to keep an eye out for for previous backlinks you earned but lost.

Head to a Backlink Analytics tool and click on the Backlinks report.

Select “Lost” above the list of backlinks and view the results. You can view the site you lost the backlink from as well as when you first received the link and when you lost it.

Keep in mind that sometimes you lose links because the page that linked to you was removed. 

If the backlink was lost to page rewrites, you can politely reach out and suggest a spot in the content where they can place the link. Bonus points if you’ve recently updated the page with new information, as this can make the request more compelling.

There are plenty more link building strategies to pursue, and we encourage you to try a few! We surveyed 850 SEO experts, and below you can see what they thought were the most effective ways to gain backlinks.

850 SEO professionals were surveyed, and here’s what they think are the best link building strategies.

How Do You Know If a Link Is a Good Link?

With 1.88 billion websites existing on the internet, and over 25 billion indexed web pages, there are seemingly infinite links in existence. 

So how can you tell the difference between a good link and a bad link?

There are five ways you will be able to tell whether the link is a good link or not.

1. Relevance

Links should come from websites with content closely related to your own website’s topic. This helps to ensure you are building the right links.

When prospecting for link opportunities, get into the mindset by asking whether you would still pursue it if Google didn’t exist or use links as part of its algorithm.

If the answer is yes, this usually means it is from a topically related website where your audience hangs out online. If you would answer no, it is a good indication that the link isn’t relevant to your business.

2. Trustworthiness

There are several ways to check the trustworthiness of a website when auditing the quality of a backlink, including:

  • The lifespan of the site
  • If the URL contains a secure socket layer (SSL)
  • Social media activity
  • If a privacy policy is present
  • Whether the website is biased
  • The amount of traffic that reaches the site each month

Usually, if the site has been around a long time, generates a healthy amount of traffic each month, is active on social media, and has elements that indicate it’s a secure site, this is likely a good link.

3. Placement

Where you place your links is important as well as it can directly influence the visibility and performance of the link itself.

The best placements for links are in the upper body of your content.

Users are more likely to see links at the top of the page when they first land as opposed to the footer, which they may or may not reach. Try to avoid placing links in sidebars, the lower body of content, and the footer.

4. Authority Score

Authority score helps to measure how impactful a website or a domain’s links are. In most cases, the higher the weightage of your website’s Authority Score, the more trusted your domain is presumed to be.

The closer your score is to 100, on a scale of 1 to 100, the better it is. Link impact as your domain continues to grow is also based on the niche of your site.

You can check your website’s Authority Score with a Backlink Analytics tool. In addition, you can see the scores of referring domains to see how beneficial these links are to your website.

5. Anchor Text 

Anchor text is the text used to link from one page to another.

While anchor text is used to help give readers context to a specific page or site, Google’s algorithm utilizes anchor text to indicate what a page is about and, therefore, can help to influence rankings. 

However, Google’s guidelines state optimized anchor text (with main target keywords or commercial terms) violates their guidelines, and excessive use is a known contributor towards manual actions being applied. 

Your link profile should contain a natural mix, with no apparent spike of links using optimized anchor text.

We’re all here to please Google’s algorithm so we can claim the top spot in the SERPs. Unfortunately, some tactics that afford you quick wins may seem nice at first, but they could negatively impact your site in the long run.

Here are some of the things you should avoid doing when link building.

Despite being a clear violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and a tactic that is defined as a link scheme, paid link building is still relatively common because it guarantees results (at first). 

Earning links is hard work, and there is no denying that. Even manual link building and the wealth of quick-win tactics available still require effort to see results. 

These kinds of links are considered toxic backlinks, and it’s best to avoid actively pursuing these.

These days, you don’t have to worry as much if you have unwanted backlinks pointing toward your site so long as you didn’t actually participate in a link building scheme. 

However, the Backlink Audit tool to keep an eye on any toxic backlinks pointing your way and even look at individual toxic markers that contribute to a link’s overall possible toxicity. 

Some things to remember:

  • In the opinion of many, using paid links is lazy link building
  • Paid link building manipulates Google’s algorithm and is a low effort yet extremely high-risk tactic
  • Most paid-for links end up coming from sites that are not topically aligned, that have a high count of outbound links, and are generally low quality
  • Aside from this risk, don’t forget that if you can buy links, so can your competitors

There are, of course, a couple of exceptions to the rules:

  1. When earning links to support your SEO strategy isn’t the primary focus, paid link building can be used
  2. When you are either looking to land referral traffic or build your brand authority. This could include you sponsored placements and ads on trusted, relevant sites. And if this is the case, you should always use a rel=“nofollow” or rel=“sponsored” attribute in place to prevent a negative impact on your search rankings.

As a general rule, using paid links purely to help increase your rankings should be a no-go.

Google Penalties

If you resort to risky tactics, you risk having toxic links in your backlink profile that could get you a Google penalty and negatively affect your rankings.

It’s not unusual for it to take months, or even years, to recover from a penalty, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How to Measure Link Building Success

The success of a link building campaign depends on the goals of your campaign. It’s important to understand the metrics that should be considered when setting these goals.

It’s not a great idea focus on the raw numbers of links built as you will find that this sacrifices quality. And, you need to be using competitor insights to determine the link gap between you and others and make sure you are building the correct links that increase your rankings.

But when looking at metrics, you want to consider using one or more of the following:

  1. Authority Score: This metric grades the overall quality of a website, which can help you determine how impactful a backlink from a site can be. If a site has a lower authority score, it probably won’t be that beneficial.
  2. Ratio of Follow to Nofollow Links: It’s normal to see a mix of different types of links in your backlink profile, but generally the more follow links you have the better. Follow link are a signal to Google to pass authority to your site.
  3. Topical Relevance: Are your backlinks from sources closely related to your business? If you have backlinks from sites that have no relation to your business, this backlink may not carry as much weight (particularly if it’s a spammy link).
  4. Unique Referring Domains: Getting backlinks from a variety of high-quality sites is better than getting multiple backlinks from just one domain, even if that domain is also high-quality.
  5. Toxic Links: If you have any backlinks marked as “toxic”, there’s no need to fret—Google is smart enough to ignore these so long as you didn’t participate in a link building scheme. However, these links won’t pass any weight.

You may also want to consider goals such as brand exposure, links, and placements on certain publications, referral traffic, and more. It is all about measuring those things that matter to you as a business.

Our Best Link Building Tools

So you know what to do and what not to do when it comes to link building. Now all you need are the tools. Fortunately, there are four powerful tools available at Sapient eCommerce that help our clients build  healthy link building strategies.

The four tools are:

  1. Backlink Analytics: helps you quickly evaluate a backlink profile, track any domain’s backlinks, and gives insights into a competitor’s current strategies
  2. Backlink Audit: allows you to examine your backlink profile’s current health and status and any place where toxic backlinks might be present
  3. Link Building Tool: helps explore backlink opportunities, learn about the website connected to the backlink opportunity, and track the progress of the link
  4. Bulk Analysis: lets you upload up to 200 URLs from various competitors so you can find more chances to build links

You can learn more about these features by scheduling an initial discovery consultation HERE.

Conclusion

Like any other aspect of SEO, you will need to put in the work consistently. While link building feels like more effort is required than most SEO strategies, it will be rewarding in the end and last for the long term.

With enough persistence in implementing your link building tactics, over time, your website may improve so much that you won’t need to work as hard for links. Instead, you can focus on developing great content that other websites and brands will want to link to.

Need help? Contact us: Link Building Strategy

SOURCE: OLGA ANDRIENKO/Semrush

Feb 2022

DIY Keyword Research & Analysis

 

Keyword Research and Analysis
KEYWORD RESEARCH
Understand what your audience wants to find.

How do you determine which strategic keywords to target in your website’s content, and how so you craft that content to satisfy both users and search engines?

The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products.

Keyword research provides you with specific search data that can help you answer questions like:

  • What are people searching for?
  • How many people are searching for it?
  • In what format do they want that information?

In this article you’ll learn about tools and strategies for uncovering that information, as well as tactics that’ll help you avoid keyword research foibles and build strong content. Once you uncover how your target audience is searching for your content, you begin to uncover a whole new world of strategic SEO!

Before keyword research, ask questions

Before you can help your business grow through search engine optimization, you first have to fully understand who your customers are.

This is where corners are often cut. Too many people bypass this crucial planning step because keyword research takes time, and why spend the time when you already know what you want to rank for?

The answer is that what you want to rank for and what your audience actually wants are often two wildly different things. Focusing on your audience and then using keyword data to hone those insights will make for much more successful campaigns than focusing on arbitrary keywords.

Here’s an example. Frankie & Jo’s (a Seattle-based vegan, gluten-free ice cream shop) has heard about SEO and wants help improving how and how often they show up in organic search results. In order to help them, an SEO agency would first need to understand a little more about their customers. To do so, one might ask questions such as:

  • What types of ice cream, desserts, snacks, etc. are people searching for?
  • Who is searching for these terms?
  • When are people searching for ice cream, snacks, desserts, etc.?
    • Are there seasonality trends throughout the year?
  • How are people searching for ice cream?
    • What words do they use?
    • What questions do they ask?
    • Are more searches performed on mobile devices?
  • Why are people seeking ice cream?
    • Are individuals looking for health-conscious ice cream specifically or just looking to satisfy a sweet tooth?
  • Where are potential customers located — locally, nationally, or internationally?

And finally — here’s the kicker — how can we help provide the best content about ice cream to cultivate a community and fulfill what all those people are searching for? Asking these questions is a crucial planning step that will guide keyword research and help craft better content.

What terms are people searching for?

You may have a way of describing what you do, but how does your audience search for the product, service, or information you provide? Answering this question is a crucial first step in the keyword research process.

Discovering keywords

You likely have a few keywords in mind that you would like to rank for. These will be things like your products, services, or other topics your website addresses, and they are great seed keywords for your research, so start there! You can enter those keywords into a keyword research tool to discover average monthly search volume and similar keywords. We’ll get into search volume in greater depth in the next section, but during the discovery phase, it can help you determine which variations of your keywords are most popular amongst searchers.

Once you enter in your seed keywords into a keyword research tool, you will begin to discover other keywords, common questions, and topics for your content that you might have otherwise missed.

Let’s use the example of a florist that specializes in weddings.

Typing “wedding” and “florist” into a keyword research tool, you may discover highly relevant, highly searched for related terms such as:

  • Wedding bouquets
  • Bridal flowers
  • Wedding flower shop

In the process of discovering relevant keywords for your content, you will likely notice that the search volume of those keywords varies greatly. While you definitely want to target terms that your audience is searching for, in some cases, it may be more advantageous to target terms with lower search volume because they’re far less competitive.

Since both high- and low-competition keywords can be advantageous for your website, learning more about search volume can help you prioritize keywords and pick the ones that will give your website the biggest strategic advantage.

Diversify!

It’s important to note that entire websites don’t rank for keywords — <em>pages</em> do. With big brands, we often see the homepage ranking for many keywords, but for most websites this isn’t usually the case. Many websites receive more organic traffic to pages other than the homepage, which is why it’s so important to diversify your website’s pages by optimizing each for uniquely valuable keywords.

 How often are those terms searched?

Uncovering search volume

The higher the search volume for a given keyword or keyword phrase, the more work is typically required to achieve higher rankings. This is often referred to as keyword difficulty and occasionally incorporates SERP features; for example, if many SERP features (like featured snippets, knowledge graph, carousels, etc.) are clogging up a keyword’s result page, difficulty will increase. Big brands often take up the top 10 results for high-volume keywords, so if you’re just starting out on the web and going after the same keywords, the uphill battle for ranking can take years of effort.

Typically, the higher the search volume, the greater the competition and effort required to achieve organic ranking success. Go too low, though, and you risk not drawing any searchers to your site. In many cases, it may be most advantageous to target highly specific, lower competition search terms. In SEO, we call those long-tail keywords.

Understanding the long tail

It would be great to rank #1 for the keyword “shoes”… or would it?

It’s wonderful to deal with keywords that have 50,000 searches a month, or even 5,000 searches a month, but in reality, these popular search terms only make up a fraction of all searches performed on the web. In fact, keywords with very high search volumes may even indicate ambiguous intent, which, if you target these terms, it could put you at risk for drawing visitors to your site whose goals don’t match the content your page provides.

Does the searcher want to know the nutritional value of pizza? Order a pizza? Find a restaurant to take their family? Google doesn’t know, so they offer these features to help you refine. Targeting “pizza” means that you’re likely casting too wide a net.

If you’re searching for “pizza,” Google thinks you may also be interested in “cheese.” They’re not wrong…

 

Was your intent to find a pizza place for lunch? The “Discover more places” SERP feature has that covered.

The remaining 75% lie in the “chunky middle” and “long tail” of search.

Don’t underestimate these less popular keywords. Long tail keywords with lower search volume often convert better because searchers are more specific and intentional in their searches. For example, a person searching for “shoes” is probably just browsing. On the other hand, someone searching for “best price red women’s size 7 running shoe” practically has their wallet out!

Sapient eCommerce can show you which keywords your pages are ranking for, their search volume, difficulty, and more.

Receive a Free Search Volume Report
Yes, Send me a Free Search Volume Report

 

Getting strategic with search volume

Now that you’ve discovered relevant search terms for your site and their corresponding search volumes, you can get even more strategic by looking at your competitors and figuring out how searches might differ by season or location.

Keywords by competitor

You’ll likely compile a lot of keywords. How do you know which to tackle first? It could be a good idea to prioritize high-volume keywords that your competitors are not currently ranking for. On the flip side, you could also see which keywords from your list your competitors are already ranking for and prioritize those. The former is great when you want to take advantage of your competitors’ missed opportunities, while the latter is an aggressive strategy that sets you up to compete for keywords your competitors are already performing well for.

Keywords by season

Knowing about seasonal trends can be advantageous in setting a content strategy. For example, if you know that “Christmas box” starts to spike in October through December in the United Kingdom, you can prepare content months in advance and give it a big push around those months.

Keywords by region

You can more strategically target a specific location by narrowing down your keyword research to specific towns, counties, or states in the Google Keyword Planner (https://ads.google.com/home/#!/), or evaluate “interest by subregion” in Google Trends (https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US). Geo-specific research can help make your content more relevant to your target audience. For example, you might find out that in Texas, the preferred term for a large truck is “big rig,” while in New York, “tractor trailer” is the preferred terminology.

Which format best suits the searcher’s intent?

We have previously covered SERP features. That background is going to help us understand how searchers want to consume information for a particular keyword. The format in which Google chooses to display search results depends on intent, and every query has a unique one. Google describes these intents in their Quality Rater  Guidelines

https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/guidelines.raterhub.com/en//searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf

as either “know” (find information), “do” (accomplish a goal), “website” (find a specific website), or “visit-in-person” (visit a local business).

While there are thousands of possible search types, let’s take a closer look at five major categories of intent:

  1. Informational queries: The searcher needs information, such as the name of a band or the height of the Empire State Building.

2. Navigational queries: The searcher wants to go to a particular place on the Internet, such as Facebook or the homepage of the NFL.

 

3. Transactional queries: The searcher wants to do something, such as buy a plane ticket or listen to a song.

4. Commercial investigation: The searcher wants to compare products and find the best one for their specific needs.

5. Local queries: The searcher wants to find something locally, such as a nearby coffee shop, doctor, or music venue.

An important step in the keyword research process is surveying the SERP landscape for the keyword you want to target in order to get a better gauge of searcher intent. If you want to know what type of content your target audience wants, look to the SERPs!

Google has closely evaluated the behavior of trillions of searches in an attempt to provide the most desired content for each specific keyword search.

Take the search “dresses,” for example:

By the shopping carousel, you can infer that Google has determined many people who search for “dresses” want to shop for dresses online.

There is also a Local Pack feature for this keyword, indicating Google’s desire to help searchers who may be looking for local dress retailers.

If the query is ambiguous, Google will also sometimes include the “refine by” feature to help searchers specify what they’re looking for further. By doing so, the search engine can provide results that better help the searcher accomplish their task.

Google has a wide array of result types it can serve up depending on the query, so if you’re going to target a keyword, look to the SERP to understand what type of content you need to create.

Tools for determining the value of a keyword

How much value would a keyword add to your website? These tools can help you answer that question, so they’d make great additions to your keyword research arsenal:

Input a keyword in Keyword Explorer and get information like monthly search volume and SERP features (like local packs or featured snippets) that are ranking for that term. The tool extracts accurate search volume data by using live clickstream data.

Google Keyword Planner –  https://ads.google.com/home/#!/

Google’s AdWords Keyword Planner has historically been the most common starting point for SEO keyword research. However, Keyword Planner does restrict search volume data by lumping keywords together into large search volume range buckets.

Google Trends –  https://trends.google.com/trends/?geo=US

Google’s keyword trend tool is great for finding seasonal keyword fluctuations. For example, “funny Halloween costume ideas” will peak in the weeks before Halloween.

This free tool populates commonly searched for questions around a specific keyword. Bonus! You can use this tool in tandem with another free tool, Keywords Everywhere, to prioritize ATP’s suggestions by search volume.

Provides some really neat competitive keyword data.

Now you know how to uncover what your target audience is searching for and how often. The next step is learning to craft pages in a way that users will love and search engines can understand. It’s called On-Site Optimization.

Source: Britney Muller at Moz

 

Feb 2022

What Do You Hope to Gain From Your SEO Approach?

SEO search engine optimization concept on blackboard

When analyzing companies that rank highly in Internet Searches it becomes obvious that they are not only liked by Google but also by their target audience.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to digital marketing. Each business has to have a different approach depending on the consumer behavior in your particular industry. One important take-home message is that companies in all industries get more traffic organically via SEO and Social Media than from paid search via Pay Per Click (PPC) and Google Ads.

Website Traffic Volume (the volume of users visiting a website) is driven by a mix of different Intent Keywords. How many people visit your website will depend on the website’s purpose, the visitors’ own goals, and the way in which they discovered the site.

When creating content for your website and blog, target keywords with low difficulty and high volume instead of attempting to rank for highly competitive keywords that may be out of reach or that would take a very long time to rank for.

Finally, remember it’s a two-step process: increasing website traffic does not mean you are making sales. Your traffic has to be directed to well-designed pages that deliver an enjoyable user experience that provide valuable content. That is, each page on your website has to be fully optimized.

Jan 2022

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION – Distinguishing Yourself from Your Competitors

Search Engine Optimization( SEO) is the process of improving the quantity of unpaid anonymous traffic to your website.

If I’ve never heard of your company but are searching for your services or products using specific keywords, would I find your company listed in the Search Results? There are several Key factors to enhance your SEO ranking. The most salient one is the content of your website pages.
Sapient eCommerce’s methods for improving content are grounded in your specific industry and customer demographics, vastly improving how you can be found in an Internet search. Original content and SEO work together to provide helpful content that attracts visitors. “Content” includes text, images, and videos. The perfect combination of various content will get your site better ranking enabling more people to find you (Forbes, 2021).

If you are looking to grow your business, Search Engine Optimization offers small and medium size businesses a competitive edge you will need to distinguish yourself from your competition. If the first page of Google Search Results receives 90% of search traffic, how can you afford not to be listed there? Sapient eCommerce identifies your competitors, analyzes their weaknesses and strengths, develops a personalized SEO Strategy, and creates your online reputation. Our methods are grounded in the science of SEO and will improve your online content and boost your Search Engine ranking in local searches.

Want to grow? Let Sapient help. If you are looking to outsource your digital marketing efforts, we would be happy to spend time learning more about your business. Start by scheduling a time for us to talk through the calendar link found here

Soren C. Adams
Growth Manager
e: soren@sapientecommerce.com
www.sapientecommerce.com
New York City, San Francisco, Vero Beach Florida|

Aug 2021

Inventory Records: Definition, Guide, and How-to Record Inventory

Inventory is the heart and soul of your business, and it’s constantly moving throughout the supply chain, including:

  • New batches of inventory entering your warehouse
  • Items getting fulfilled and shipped
  • More inventories being ordered, transported, received, and stored

Along with the type of products you sell, your warehouse location(s), and your inventory’s current value — keeping tabs on ecommerce inventory data and information at all times can be challenging, error-prone, and time-consuming. Yet when the accounting period ends, your accountant is going to expect accurate reporting. 

That’s why online brands ditch the manual work and implement technology that makes record-keeping a breeze.

In this article, we explore:

  • What inventory records entail
  • Why it’s important to consistently track inventory 
  • How to outsource inventory management

What are inventory records?

Inventory records are repositories of data pertaining to each item in a brand’s product line, including:

  • What’s in stock at the SKU level
  • What’s been sold and reordered
  • The product’s value
  • The inventory’s storage location
  • Other information that pertains to a business, such as work-in-process (WIP) inventory data

Each entry must have a description of the SKU along with relevant data. These records are either created manually or digitally.

Why it’s important to keep up-to-date inventory records

Keeping proper inventory records provides better inventory control and visibility into inventory as changes occur.

Since inventory is noted as an asset in a business’s balance sheets, you will be expected to provide accurate inventory information at the end of a fiscal year or accounting period.

Here is why every business owner should be keeping proper inventory records.

Ensures inventory tracking is accurate

Consistently keeping track of what’s leaving and entering the warehouse ensures inventory accuracy and inventory reconciliation.

Inaccurate inventory counts can lead to inventory shrinkage, or when stock is less than the recorded balance in the accounting record, and it can cause major discrepancies that can throw off profit margins and other financials.

Makes inventory accounting easier

Accurate inventory records make the inventory accounting process much more bearable.

Keeping track of inventory value and count is legally required of all retailers and manufacturers, as per the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and regulated by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).  

By maintaining a proper inventory record-keeping process, you’re also able to track changes in value, so you know how much your inventory is worth at the end of an accounting period.

Helps prevent items from going out of stock

Keeping up-to-date inventory records help you prevent stockouts and have a better understanding on when it’s time to reorder more inventory.

Keep in mind that not having enough inventory can cause out-of-stock issues but storing too much inventory can increase carrying costs  and lead you to potentially accumulate too much dead stock.

Since inventory is constantly moving throughout the ecommerce supply chain, the use of real-time inventory management technology makes it easier to check if all inventory is accounted for when comparing physical inventory and electronic records.

Being able to track inventory without the manual work can reduce risk while optimizing operational costs, including storage fees.

Prevents mistakes from being made based off of bad data

If your records aren’t up-to-date, you and your team risk making important business decisions based on incorrect data.

By using technology to track inventory in real time, you can reduce mistakes by cutting out time-consuming, manual work.

Tracking inventory in real time can be done using inventory management solutions, including inventory apps or a more robust system like ERP inventory software. These systems allow you to aggregate data by connecting your upstream manufacturing activities with your downstream sales.

With real-time data tied to inventory, you’re also given the information needed to identify trends and forecast demand, so you can make better predictions on inventory reorder quantities and levels.

Tips for keeping accurate inventory records

Depending on the number of SKUs you sell, your order volume, and the size of your company, the complexity of inventory record-keeping varies.

No matter how intricate your business is, here are some of the top inventory management strategies you can implement.

Keep physical backups

An inventory audit is defined as the process of checking a company’s actual inventory levels against their financial records to ensure accurate inventory accounting. To make inventory auditing more efficient, it is helpful for retailers to keep physical records of all inventory along with online backups (or vice versa). 

Keeping original physical copies can be a legal requirement in some states. And it also secures your information in case of a situation where your cloud server’s integrity is compromised.

Get input from your accountant on what to record and how

Find an accountant you can trust and get their insights into how to keep inventory records for your business.

In most cases, the information you need during the accounting period includes COGS, raw materials (if applicable), beginning inventory, and the value of ending inventory (what’s left over at the end of an accounting period).

You can also ask your accountant for their advice on how to choose the best inventory valuation method  based on the type of products you sell and your typical sales volume.

Remain consistent in your accounting methods

There are many ways to track and record inventory. No matter what method you choose, the most important thing is to stay consistent to ensure accuracy. 

At the end of an accounting period or financial year, you will need to calculate how much your inventory is worth.

The most common valuation methods in ecommerce include: 

  • FIFO (first-in, first-out)
  • LIFO (last-in, first-out)
  • Inventory weighted average (WAC)
  • Specific identification method

Invest in inventory management software

When it comes to keeping records on inventory, you have two options:

  1. Update records after a designated accounting period (periodic inventory system)
  2. Continuously update the records with every transaction (perpetual inventory system)

As your business grows, adapting a perpetual inventory system is your best bet.

This can be done by investing in an inventory management software, which will help you track inventory flow in real time and record live updates without you lifting a finger.

What a good inventory management software should allow you to do

A powerful inventory management software makes inventory record-keeping a breeze.

By automating the tracking of all inventory and real-time changes, you can optimize inventory to meet demand and improve supply chain efficiency.

With the right software, you can easily download records and custom reports, so you have all the information you need when it’s time to meet with your accountant.

Here is a breakdown of how an inventory management software works.

Real-time views of inventory levels across all channels

As you expand your business, you most likely will branch out from selling exclusively on your online store.

Marketplaces (e.g., Amazon and Walmart) and social media platforms (e.g., Instagram and Facebook) provide direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands different avenues to sell through, so they can broaden their customer reach.

That’s why many merchants implement a multichannel inventory management software, which tracks inventory across channels and aggregates records all in one place. 

If you partner with a technology-enabled 3PL  you get access to built-in inventory management tools that also allow you to track inventory across channels and distribution centers in one place.

This allows merchants to spread inventory across multiple fulfillment centers and be able to track inventory in real time through one dashboard instead of relying on multiple sources.

Automatically generate inventory reports

Arguably, your inventory management software is only as good as the inventory reports it generates. Calculating and tracking these metrics in spreadsheets or through multiple different integrations can be troublesome. 

Inventory management technology automatically aggregates data, so you can pull custom reports whenever you need them.

For instance, many order fulfillment  platform automatically pulls reports and data on SKU velocity, inventory days on hand, inventory turnover rate, and much more. 

Set reorder points based on historical data

Inventory management software allows you to automatically set reorder point notifications, so you can replenish inventory on time without the need to be tracking inventory every hour or manually as each order is placed.

The software pulls insights from historical sales data to give you a better idea of when it will be time to reorder more inventory per SKU, so you can set a predetermined reorder point.