SEO Tips for PDFs

PDFs, just like HTML pages, can rank in search engines. Accordingly, it is important that PDF optimization is part of your comprehensive strategy for search engine performance. Here are some helpful SEO tips for PDFs:

Save the PDF as Text Based

When creating a new PDF, be sure to save the file as text based, rather than a flat image. Microsoft Word and Adobe InDesign allow for this whereas scanning a hard copy of a document will not. From Google’s Webmaster Central blog: The general rule of the thumb is that if you can copy and paste the text from a PDF document into a standard text document, we should be able to index that text.

Optimize PDF Properties

When creating a PDF, there are a number of text properties that should be defined prior to loading to a website. These include title, author, subject, and keywords. To access these, go to File > Properties. Here are some thoughts and recommendations for each of these fields:

  • Title
    • These are similar to the title tags on HTML pages and should follow similar best practices.
    • PDF titles can appear as part of search results
    • Answer this question: How would you name this content?
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Author
    • This field is designated for the creator of the article.
    • Use this space to reference the business, organization, or the individual who deserves credit for the work.
  • Subject
    • The subject field in a PDF is similar to the meta description on HTML pages.
    • Try to keep this field to 150 characters or less
    • Include a call to action
    • Include a relevant keyword that has search volume
  • Keywords
    • As we’ve mentioned on TKgenius, including meta keywords in HTML pages offers no SEO value. This is likely the case for the keyword properties in PDFs as well.
    • If you choose to fill in this field in the PDF properties, separate each keyword with commas and avoid stuffing with similar keywords.

PDF SEO

SEO-friendly File Name

Many content management systems generate the URL based on the file name.  Therefore, when saving the PDF, there are several guidelines to follow:

  • Save the file with a relevant file name (not draft17FINAL2015revisionB.pdf)
  • Separate words with dashes and use lowercase text
  • Avoid overly lengthy file names
  • Include a relevant keyword

Hyperlink Text in the PDF

Include hyperlinks in the PDF that link to relevant detail pages within your site that contain more info. For example, at the end of the PDF, include a call to action such as Request a quote that goes to your request a quote form on your website.

Include Keywords in the Content

Just like a traditional HTML page, include relevant keywords in the copy itself. In general, identify a few overall keywords that define the theme of the content (use the Google Keyword Planner tool to see if the phrases are popular), write the article in its entirely, then review what was written to find a few opportunities to tastefully include keywords where appropriate.

Optimize Anchor Text to the PDF

Once the PDF is loaded to the website, be sure to find appropriate locations across your site to link to the new PDF. When linking to the PDF, avoid linking text such as “Learn More” or “download this PDF” and instead hyperlink the actual words that discuss the content. For example: link the words “optimize PDFs for search engines” in the sentence: Learn how to optimize PDFs for search engines.

By following the guidelines above, you’ll ensure the PDFs on your website are SEO friendly.

Do What Works but Don’t Stop Wanting More

As an account manager of several web marketing clients, my goal is for them (and us) to be successful in growing their businesses. And we do that by aligning our strategy with their company goals, becoming partners who work together in this mutual aim.

Most of my customers want to sell more widgets or get more sales leads, and so we get them more website traffic so they can do just that. Who doesn’t like more customers, right?

If your company website leads or sales are growing, especially by having a content and search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, then continue to work your plan. That’s good business sense.

But let’s not stop at just continuing to do what works. There’s always more. It’s time to try new things.

stock-footage-new-ideas-hand-drawn-lettering-with-a-simple-stylized-bulb-symbol-whiteboard-animation-on-whiteWhen it comes to making money, one of my favorite things to do is to try new ideas. It’s fun to test them out and see if you can get a return on investment. Online marketing is no different: Find something that works and expand it. Then, find something else that works and expand it, too. Repeat the process.

Let’s assume you have an SEO and content strategy working for your business. Have you tested some paid digital advertising, yet? What about social media marketing; is that right for your business? And by social media marketing, I mean true strategy that drives results – not just playing on Facebook. How about email marketing to current customers – might you get them to spend more with your company with repeat orders?

There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to growing your business. If you haven’t gone down very far down those roads, there are likely goldmines to uncover.

Facebook Adds Call to Action Button for Pages

If you own or manage a Facebook business page, you may have seen a new feature that allows you to add a Call-to-Action (CTA) button to your page. This button is a useful tool that will invite your Facebook fans to shop, visit, or contact your business via the website.

Here’s a quick step by step guide to creating your page’s Call-to-Action button.

Begin by logging into Facebook and switch your role over to your page’s administrator (this might happen automatically when you go to your business page). You will see a button on your cover photo that says Create Call-to-Action. You may also receive a pop-up box to begin this process when you land on your home page.

CTA - 1

Choose Your Call to Action

A box will appear to begin stepping you through the CTA process. The first thing you will want to choose is the type of action you want your customers to take. If you have an ecommerce website or sell your product via a third party like an Etsy shop, you can choose the Shop Now button. Other choices include, Book Now (great for travel sites or hotels); Contact Us, Use App, Play Game, Sign Up and Watch Video.

CTA - 3

Choose the Destination

During the next step – you will enter the website or page where you want your users to land. If your site is responsive, you can enter your regular web address into both fields. If you have a page designed specifically for mobile users, you will want to place it in the mobile field. Once you enter your website information, select the next button.

CTA - 2

Mobile App Uploads

The following two screens are prompts specifically for mobile devices. If your goal is to have your visitors go directly to your website just hit Next for the following two screens. If your goal is to have your users download an App or game, choose the App option from the next two dropdowns and upload your App’s deep link URL for both iOS and Android devices. Click the next button to complete the process.

Observe & Report

Your CTA button is now live on your site. You can view the results of your page’s CTA button from the quick-glance statistics. The high level statistics will provide you with the number of views your button received over the past 7 days. You can go to the Insights view of your page to further analyze these results.

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Above (and Below) the Fold

For years I would preach about keeping all relevant content “above the fold” on the home page. If you are unfamiliar with the phrase, it simply refers to the area presented to visitors when a web page loads in the browser window. Wikipedia might explain it a little better. Anything included below the fold was most certainly lost forever. Never to be seen again. Yikes!

Why did I hammer this concept home for several years? Because it was truly believed that people didn’t like to scroll down a page to find what they were looking for. And maybe that was true way back when.

I think that concept is one dimensional and isn’t very true anymore.

While you still want to keep your biggest message on top, you can include many details on a page and people WILL scroll if they are motivated to find out more. Another reason to disregard my old advice is because search engines look at the entire page and index content no matter where it’s at. If it’s relevant, then it deserves a place at the table.

I think a large player in this arena is the adoption of smart phones and the necessity to scroll on those devices. People have become accustomed to viewing websites on smaller screens with the need to scroll. Have you ever spent 5 (or 60) minutes scrolling through Facebook? Yep, you’ll just keep going without any worry.

Scroll On

If you’ve lived in fear of the fold maybe it’s time to reconsider things. You may be missing an opportunity to get great, relevant content on your home page that will ultimately help convert potential customers. Not sure where to start? Call us and we can look at your website together.

 

5 Online Marketing Tips for 2015

It’s never a bad idea to revisit your online marketing strategies and SEO efforts. Here are five quick tips to help with your online marketing initiatives in 2015.

  1. Building Stronger Content
    Need ideas for new web content? Review the submissions coming in from the comments field on your website’s Contact Us page. Additionally, review search terms users enter into your site search box. There is a report for this in Google Analytics and many content management systems also capture this data. Outside of the website, you can also ask your sales team for call transcripts from valid prospects. These are all great sources of information to better understand what is important to your customers.
  1. Find the Answers You Need
    Are you stumped on a technical or SEO-related question about your website? Visit the Google Search Help Forum to get answers directly from a community of knowledgeable Google users.
  1. Structured Data Checkup
    Does structured data make sense for your website? Probably. Rich snippets can be added to specific elements on a website to help search engines further understand information. There are snippets available for almost all types of websites so more than likely there are several that are applicable for your business. For example, there are snippets available to identify items such as navigation breadcrumbs, recipe images, product reviews, job posting locations, and the physical address of a business. Learn more at www.schema.org.
  1. Long Tail Search Term Content
    google-autocompletegoogle-searches-related Need even more landing page copy ideas? Pay attention to the auto-suggest results that show up when typing a popular industry search query into Google then write content to address the long tail results. At the bottom of Google search results pages, there are also helpful ideas in a section called Searches related to. Bing displays related searches in the right column of the results page.
  1. Keep Similar Keywords
    Stumped on which similarly popular keyword to incorporate into a page? Use both. Embrace synonyms, related phrases, and long tail phrases across title tags, meta descriptions, image alt tags, URLs, page copy, etc to define an overall theme for a page rather than fixating on a single keyword. The days of finding that one magical keyword then plugging it into every single meta field are over. If it feels like you’re stuffing keywords; you probably are.

Have any other helpful digital marketing tips? Feel free to share in the comments.

Responsive Design

Over the years, the ways in which we view the internet have changed dramatically. I still remember the days when my family dialed up the internet on our old Compaq, and now users have the option to access the internet virtually on their TVs, PCs, tablets, smartphones, netbooks or even their refrigerators. The point is, users are accessing your site on a range of different devices, and you want to be seen everywhere you can.

If your company is willing to invest the time, money and resources it takes to create a digital playground where customers can go to discover your products and services, it’s worth adapting that investment to display correctly on all relevant devices.

According to a recent study by the research firm IDC, there were over 1 billion smartphones sold worldwide in 2013, and according to Gartner, over 195 million tablets were sold the same year. With that many mobile internet users in world, it is important that your website is equipped to adapt to those users’ mobile screens.

So what’s the takeaway? To stay current and relevant in the digital space, it is important to consider responsively designed websites. Responsive sites are quickly becoming the industry’s standard because of their ability to adapt to changing technologies, and bonus: they have all sorts of residual business benefits.

Have additional thoughts about responsive design? We’d love to hear them!

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Getting More Leads and Sales from Your Company Website

As I have shared previously, having a business website that caters to desktop, tablet and smartphone users (responsive design) is crucial as Google is giving more weight to sites that offer a great experience to all of its visitors. So, let’s say you’ve invested in your company website to do just that – what’s the next step?

More Traffic

Obviously, you want people to find your website and pay it a visit. You do this by having a good SEO/content strategy in place; and you can also bring more traffic to the website through paid advertising, social media posting and email marketing.

So let’s say you have good traffic coming to your site. What are you doing with it? Is your website generating leads? Is it creating sales for your company? If not, then you need to look at what’s called “conversion optimization.” ‘Conversions,’ for the purpose of this article, is a fancy word meaning leads and sales – how someone makes contact with your business. If you have traffic, but you are not receiving leads or sales, then there is a disconnect somewhere – and you need to find it.

Leads and Sales

There are three primary ways to generate leads from your website: phone calls, form submissions, and live chat. Phone numbers should be prominently placed and easy to find by site visitors. Forms should be simple and quick to fill out so users can send you contact you. And chat is icing on the cake – a simple way to get instant gratification if you are a website visitor with questions. We have found that people like to reach out to our clients in different ways, meaning each person has their preference. Why not cater to all three?

Let’s say you have an e-commerce website; you don’t want leads, you want sales. Make the experience smart, easy and intuitive. Does your current e-commerce website offer features such as the ability to order from the product listing page? Can I set-up an account and save my past orders? Is the checkout process simple and painless? Can I get free shipping or a discount on larger orders? Are you offering as many products as possible to potentially expand order size? Does your e-commerce website convey the feeling of trust by offering a way to contact your company, a return policy, testimonials, product reviews, etc.? And do you offer live chat to help buyers overcome any ordering challenges or questions?

Conclusion

Challenge yourself to objectively review your website. Determine whether or not you need help with traffic or conversions; then, take the necessary steps to improve its performance. You may be able to make some changes on your own or you may need some help from a web development/web marketing company. Whatever the case, DO something. The internet is not going away, and I can almost guarantee your competitors will be looking at this, too. Why not beat them to the punch?

The Return of Frames

20 years in the web design business has allowed me to see a lot of change.

So, who remembers frames? You know that clunky, multi-document approach to leaving branding and navigation in place while the user scrolled?

I have fond memories of heated debates I had with our team years ago about frames. Believe it or not, I was a fan of the evil technique. I always felt that leaving navigation and branding in place for the user had some real value.

Navigation is essential for guiding users through a site’s content, and an effective and useful navigation must be accessible and intuitive. Frames allowed essential website elements, like branding and navigation, to stay in place while the rest of the website content moved around it. This made it easy for users to find what they were looking for, no matter where they were on a site.

Of course, I was never a designer or developer, so I didn’t have to deal with the nasty details of making a frames site work.  Let alone the mess that they made for the search engines if not done properly.

As it turns out, a little over a decade later, the concept has returned.  Today it’s done by setting a fixed position of elements from within the CSS.  It’s fair to point out that it’s much cleaner this way and doesn’t require the multiple html docs that frames did.

I’d be willing to bet that many who argued vehemently against frames years ago, if they are still web developers today, have either built or will soon build a site with fixed navigation and branding.  They don’t even realize that they are helping to bring back an old technique they once fought so hard against.

Have additional thoughts about the return of frames? We’d love to hear them!

What is the SSL Effect on SEO?

In August, Google announced that having a HTTPS site will help your site’s SEO. Further information revealed that this new SSL ranking signal would be slightly less significant compared to quality content. In response to this announcement, Raven Tools co-founder Jon Henshaw has encouraged internet marketers to test this switch before jumping into a fully HTTPS site.

Making the transition from HTTP to HTTPS is not as simple as adding an extra letter to the URL. It requires adding a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), which is generally found on e-commerce sites or others that offer secure transaction pages. Switching a site to HTTPS has some heavy SEO obstacles.

Henshaw gives nine steps to follow in transitioning a WordPress site to HTTPS. Outside of the difficulty of obtaining private keys and certificates, there are a number of other obstacles to hurdle over in maintaining SEO. It’s important to first understand that HTTP sites and an HTTPS sites are considered to be different sites, not extensions of one another. Next is the need to redirect traffic from the old HTTP site to the new HTTPS site. Enter the wonderful process of de-indexing. The old HTTP pages will need to be removed, which luckily, Google will do once your new redirects are set up. This will take care of the regular HTTP, or non-secure, pages.

One last tip from Henshaw is that he doesn’t recommend switching to an HTTPS site if your site is performing well and bringing in a large volume of conversions. This secure site SEO factor is another best practice to be added to a lengthy list that online marketers need to address, or at the very least be aware of.

What does this mean for your site?

Don’t panic if your site is not entirely HTTPS. As with many other changes to SEO best practices, which change constantly, you won’t want to jump straight on the wagon. Take some time to evaluate the process involved in switching from a site in HTTP to HTTPS. Make sure any kinks are worked out of the process if you decide to switch. Have a plan of action (see above steps from Jon Henshaw). How intensive will it be for your site? If your website is new, you may want to go ahead and start the transition as this change would be easier to make, and you won’t have to make the change once your site is established in organic Google searches.

I agree with Henshaw when he makes a point about successful sites with high traffic and goal completions not needing to make an immediate switch. Though being proactive is not a bad thing:

  • Are you creating a new signup feature? Make sure it is secure.
  • Are all of your e-commerce transaction pages already HTTPS? If not, that’s a change you need to make.

How does SSL effect SEO?Security needs for your site are directly related to how much information you are collecting. If the main goal of your site is only to push content, you have much less of a need for security additions; however, if you are collecting a range of personal information or credit card info, you absolutely need secure pages.

Be sure to watch your website’s statistics in the coming months. Is there suddenly a sustained loss in organic traffic? Have you noticed a dip in overall site performance? If you are having these issues, it would be worth evaluating the switch to HTTPS.

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Creating an Effective Lead Generation Website

Lead GenerationWhile creating a lead generation website may seem like a relatively easy endeavor in today’s ever-changing world of digital mobility, creating a truly effective lead generator requires a collaborative, strategic approach on the part of both the client and development resource.

The client has a great deal to do with the success of any web project.  The first sign of success is for the client’s entire team to embrace the belief that a great website is of strategic importance to the future growth and prosperity of the business. Client commitment to the project leads to a collaborative effort that realizes greater impact in user experience and effective messaging.

Purpose

Lead generation has become a soft, generic term, but in a real lead generation website, every page has a distinct purpose. When considering your site’s information architecture, you need to ask the question, “What do I want people to do on this page? What is the end result I’m trying to achieve with this content?’ In doing so, you define a collection of ‘related links’ which may change on each page, relative to that page’s content.

Calls-to-Action

The first key to creating an effective lead generation site is leading the user to the desired category or page on your site. Once there, the second key is directing the user to a call-to-action (CTA) while on the page. CTAs can appear in a variety of trackable formats such as content links (white papers, video links), form submissions, email contacts and designated phone numbers. All of the above CTAs are implemented with a common objective—to obtain desired lead contact information for the purpose of ultimately converting an interested lead into a customer.

Mobility

The world of mobile devices continues to grow in popularity and usefulness. Implementing effective lead generation practices into mobile devices does not happen automatically. Responsive design, the facility for a website to reconfigure itself depending on the viewing device, requires careful design consideration in crafting a user experience that works well on all mediums.

Content Structure

Successful content marketing begins with an effective content structure for each section of the website. This structure is designed through a series of unique ‘page templates’ representing different types of content. For each page template, it is important to carefully consider the audience and the path on which you’d like to guide them. Each content structure, and the content it houses, is designed to optimize search results.

Video and Imagery

It is well documented that people read less and respond more to image-based content. In fact, statistics support the position that video attracts as much as 300% more traffic and has a greater impact in nurturing leads. As such, incorporating video and related imagery leads to an improved user experience, thus enhancing the potential for lead generation.

Brand Image

Last but not least is the significance of brand image. The challenge that most companies face is that they try to say too much, particularly on the home page. If you approach the navigation process in a purposeful way on every page, the home page does not have to bear all the weight of the site. Think in terms of having every page on your site designed to engage the user.

Take a look at your website. Are you implementing these lead generation principles to effectively engage your audience?

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