Brand Authority Basics: 5 Reasons Why You Should Write Articles for Your Brand

Why Do I Have To Write Articles? I’m a Businessperson.

As the fierce arms race to control Brand Authority in the online marketplace continues to ramp up, it’s only becoming more and more important to find an angle that sets your brand and your offering apart from your competition. For some retail brands, this can be accomplished by establishing themselves as a price leader in their market segment, or by offering a unique product that their competitors simply can’t match. But when it comes to the internet, and a lot of the service-based brands and companies that now exist, some of these age-old differentiating tactics no longer apply.

Why Do I Care About Brand Authority?

In a new age where knowledge is king, a brand must set themselves apart by demonstrating that they are more authoritative and knowledgable in their field than anyone else. One great way to demonstrate this is by curating and creating written content, on topics that directly relate to your brand and business. You don’t need to be the next Hemingway to write short to medium-form articles that can actually help your existing customers, attract new customers, and build brand authority at the same time.

Here are just five simple reasons why you should be writing articles for your brand:

  1. Authority – By positioning yourself as a leader and a source of knowledge in your industry, people will naturally gravitate towards your brand. Additionally, depending on your industry, there may be little competition when it comes to written articles and knowledge online. If you’re a landscaper in Scottsdale, AZ, there is likely not a huge amount of online competition writing watering guides, landscape design advice, etc. Those are easy ‘ins’ you can take advantage of quickly!
  2. Credibility – Along with this authority naturally comes a trust and understanding that you know what you’re talking about! This is a very valuable tool, professionally, and gaining the trust of current or potential customers is a gift that should be valued and respected. Make your content and writing actionable; the more valid and useful solutions you present to your audience, the more you will be seen as a leader.
  3. Recognition – Building brand recognition that increases the association of your brand or name to quality work or service is the entire point of marketing! You want people to sell you, for you. If you can become a recognized name, the snowball effect of recognition leading to discovery will begin to take place, paradoxically exposing even more new potential customers to your brand, and the identity of that brand.
  4. Loyalty – The more you build rapport with your customer base, the more loyal they will likely be to your brand. A business that continues to provide value after the initial transaction is miles ahead of the competition, and no amount of shiny marketing materials or up-front value adds can beat a strong and ongoing relationship that is beneficial to the customer.
  5. Perceived Value – When you continue to provide value past the initial relationship, you are building the perceived value of the brand/product in the customer’s eyes. By going beyond the tangible benefits of whatever the customer has purchased, you can make them feel like they are getting more for their money.

This is obviously not an exhaustive list, and only covers a few basic reasons why blogging for a business is beneficial to your brand authority and identity, but it should give you more than enough good reasons to get out and start writing articles for your brand today!

HTTPS and You: Does HTTPS Really Affect SERP Rankings?

Introducing HTTPS – Whether You Like it or Not

http vs https

As all SEOs should know, Google announced in August 2014 that they would be adding a ranking factor to their SERP algorithm based on whether or not a site was serving a secure or insecure page. As is typical with Google, they didn’t add anything more, leaving many of us wondering: Just how much does HTTPS really matter?

Well, now that the dust has settled a bit, one month later many SEO experts are ready to look back at August’s data and draw some initial conclusions.

So, Does HTTPS Affect SEO Performance?

Well, that totally depends on what context you’re asking that question in. Do you run a banking or finance website? Do you deal with users’ sensitive information? Then yes, you should definitely be using HTTPS, amongst other safeguards. But what about if you run a personal fitness blog, or a fashion website? Does HTTPS affect SEO performance? According to Marcus Tober of SearchMetrics, not enough for anyone to notice:

In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinion therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.

The short version: There was barely enough of a difference for the change to be statistically significant in reporting, leading SEOs to believe this is nothing more than an additional, minute ranking factor, used primarily to tip the scales one way or another in the case of a very tight ranking battle between two sites. But don’t expect HTTPS to be winning you any top spots on its own.

So friends, don’t go running out to upgrade to a secure server and dish out for a certificate unless you have a legitimate security need for HTTPS/SSL. One thing is for sure: HTTPS is not going to push you to the top of page 1. Sorry, pipe dreamers!

 

Quick Monday Tip List: Keeping Your Blog SEO Friendly!

Hey everyone, and happy Monday! I wanted to share some short reminder tips on how to keep your blog SEO friendly, both when maintaining existing content, and when creating and curating new content! Sound off in the comments and let me know if you have any other great tips that help keep your blog in tip-top shape!

 

1. Responsive Design:

You want your blog to respond and conform to any / all devices that the user may be using. This creates just one URL, causing any inbound links to only link to one domain rather than multiple domains. This helps boost your Google ranking, in turn boosting your SEO ranking.

 

2. Create content that’s relevant to your keywords. Below are a few tips to follow when writing:

  • Write your content for people, not so much for what you think a search bot would like. It should be natural and captivating.
  • Write something unique that your readers won’t be able to find anywhere else on the web.

3. Link Internally:

Linking internally to your blog or event to the HB website helps show the validity and relevancy of your blog content.

 

4. Consider the “scanners”

Most people, when browsing blogs or reading posts tend to skim through.  Make it easy for users to read:

  • use shorter sentences
  • use bullet points & lists
  • use relevant images.

 

5. Font size matters

The larger the text on the page, the more importance is placed on it by Google. When crating headers and sub-headers, make sure to use your primary and secondary keywords.

 

6. Images:

A good image can help strengthen your content and lower your bounce rate. Make sure you save the image files as keywords rather than “image384773”.

 

7. Share, share, share!

Once all of your blog content is optimized and ready, make sure to share it on all of your social media channels.

At Long Last, Google Releases Google Analytics for iOS

After lagging behind Android for years in terms of native app development for Google Analytics, Google has finally released Google Analytics for iOS. The first party Google Analytics app comes with support for some of the best features of Analytics, including Real Time traffic view, secondary factor drilldown, and beautiful graphic-based display of information. The Google Analytics app is available for devices running iOS 6.0 and up, and is optimized for iPhone 5/5s and iPad.

iphone-google-analytics-app

 

Features at a Glance:

 

Tapping the bar icon in the upper left corner opens the options that are available in the left hand menu in the web version of Analytics. Users can choose to drill into Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions.

iphone-google-analytics-app-realtime

Segment filtering is also easy, by tapping the circle with a plus sign icon in the upper right corner. When a segment is selected, the icon turns orange. You cannot use custom segments in the app or do anything custom at all really. This is just the basics, but it’s clean and easy to use.

Google Officially Launches International Targeting in Webmaster Tools

After an initial beta testing period for a new International Targeting feature, Google has officially announced its inclusion into the Webmaster Tools suite, allowing for href-lang tag markup to be used to denote which version of a page should be served for a given locality. Because of the relative low adoption of href language tags up until now, implementation and syntax is often incorrect when using these tags.

International Targeting Error Reporting

Webmaster Tools can now help to detect some of these syntax errors, and help you to display the proper version of a given page for every viewer. The built-in reporting helps identify these common issues:

incorrect_backlinks-600x304

  • Missing return links: annotations must be confirmed from the pages they are pointing to. If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A, otherwise the annotations may not be interpreted correctly. For each error of this kind Google may report where and when Google detected them, as well as where the return link is expected to be.

incorrect_language-600x306

  • Incorrect hreflang values: The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as “es”, or a combination of language and country code such as “es-AR”, where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format. In case Google indexing systems detect language or country codes that are not in these formats, Google will provide example URLs to help you fix them.

(photo and info sourced from Search Engine Land)

Best Practices: Google Shopping Campaigns and PLAs in 2014

Google Shopping listings have been updated yet again, in lockstep with Panda 4.0, and as a result there are some guideline changes when building new product feeds that take advantage of enhanced tagging ability, sorting and grouping by product performance, and more! Check out the highlights below:

Best Practices for an Optimized Shopping Campaign Feed

Ensure “product data is complete, fresh and accurate”

  • Upload data regularly to keep information current
    • Once a day, or depending on changes, schedule frequent uploads
  • Feeds should be kept updated to reflect any new price changes and availability
  • “Product eligibility can improve your impressions”
  • Match the data feed to the information found on your website
  • Submit Unique Product Identifiers

Keep “titles, descriptions and images user-friendly”

  • Use high-quality, clear images for products
    • Use white, gray or light gray backgrounds
    • Avoid watermarks and logos
  • “Relevancy can improve your click through rate”
    • Use Search Query Reports to hone relevancy of products’ keyword lists
  • No keyword stuffing

Keep “product type and custom labels in good shape”

  • “Bid based on your product group’s relative value”
  • Organize your inventory by product type for easy management of your shopping campaigns
    • Create a product catalogue or taxonomy
  • Five custom labels are available and they make management control of new and old products that much easier
    • Each product can be assigned up to 5 labels

Resource: AdWords Best Practices Series on Search Engine Land

Updated Specifications for Data Feed Attributes

  • Landing Page Policy
  • Image Quality Recommendations
  • Attribute Character Limits

Resource: Google Merchant Center Product Feed Specification

What are heading tags, and why do they matter to my marketing and SEO?

In my experience the rules around use of H tags is always shifting. Here are the current “rules” (according to Google) as I understand them:

  • You determine the priority of your own content. There is no hard-and-fast rule around which piece of content is the most important to you.
  • Visual styling is important. Apparently you can lose ranking or be demoted for using high-ranking H-tags (h1, h2) but making them small in font or a low-contrast color.
  • They only do so much. They’re not the be-all-end-all of your ranking content. They’re one small factor. Make the choice that best represents your product, not to game SEO.
  • H4’s and beyond do little to help Google make sense of your content. Use more semantic containers (header, article, section) to help organize content.
  • Other things factor into SEO like multimedia, meta tags, etc. Optimizing those in tandem with well-written heading tags will go a long way.

In short: above all content matters. Make sure content is original and readable by Google. Make decisions that help your customers first, and Google second. Often you will find that what’s best for your customer’s UI/UX and conversion path lines up nicely with what Google wants. It is their goal to use compliance to make the web easier to search and use, after all!

 

Here’s what a basic heading structure could look like:

 

  • H1 Product Name
  • H2 Product Short Description / Product name above the description (I’ve seen this done on large eCommerce sites and do not know if this is proper)
  • H3 Product Long Description / Product Specifications / Reviews
  • H4 Product Price