Optimizing Images to Enhance SEO and Usability

You probably go through a dozen or more articles and web pages on a daily basis. Among these, the ones that typically catch your eye will be the ones with good graphics, relevant images and occasionally, illustrative visual material. In other words, an article with an image is better than an article without one. This is especially true today, when the sheer amount of content online has reached dizzying proportions. Thus, adding the right images is important if you really want a user to pay attention to your online content.

Good images are not just eye-candy for the reader. They also serve a critical purpose: that of enhancing your website’s search rankings. If you use an image in the middle of related text, the image will help strengthen the SEO of the text, and at the same time rank higher in image search rankings. The simple truth is that search rankings reflect user preferences. So if users like your image-optimized article, Google is sure to like it as well.

The key question is how to use images that truly enhance your website’s content and improve its SEO standing. Here are few vital ways of accomplishing this:

Use Proper File Names: If you use a generic, unrelated or random filename, this is job not well done at all. The image, even if relevant, has a name that doesn’t correspond to the page text. As a result, users will not be able to search this image, and search spiders will not know that this image is about the topic. If you would simply change the image’s name to something relevant, it instantly becomes searchable both for the users and for search engines.

Optimize for Size and Speed: Users want web page to load faster, and so do search engines like Google. If you are offering great content but have a clunky website that loads slowly, this is going to turn off your users. So when using images on your website, make sure to optimize them for size and speed. You can do this by using compression that optimizes for web rather than print use. You can manually resize images or increase compression with most image editing applications. If you are using a limited number of images on a daily basis, this can work. But if you are going to use a lot of images, head on to the next pointer.

Automate Optimization through Front-End Optimization (FEO):If you have a huge volume of images and you don’t want to minimize file sizes manually,you can automate the whole process with FEO using techniques such as progressive rendering or dynamic image resizing.

Dynamic image resizing optimizes the size and load speed of your image in real-time. Progressive image rendering is another technique that offers an excellent balance between speed and image quality. It essentially loads a lower-resolution version of the image immediately, and then progressively replaces it with a series of better-quality versions. At the user end, it appears as the image has loaded instantly and quickly gone from slightly hazy to top resolution.

Progressive rendering can be achieved easily with the help of content delivery networks who help in optimizing image presentation through front-end optimization. Not to mention that they come with the added benefits of improving page load speeds and enhanced security for your website. In simpler words, CDNs can serve as your all-in-one solution for your image optimization needs in particular and speed optimization needs in general. You can read this guide, which focuses on using CDNs to achieve better front-end optimization.

Optimize the Use of ALT Tags and Captions: ALT tags are descriptive tags for images in the back-end HTML code. These tags help search engines discover what an image is about. So if you have uploaded an image depicting a new watch or Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, it is highly advisable that you use “alt=’Tissot Navy Blue Opal Glass Watch’” or “alt=’Da Vinci Mona Lisa’” in the ALT tags. Aside from the captions being helpful in describing the image, it also helps in the indexing of the images.

Use Image Sitemaps: If you use straightforward images with descriptive captions and the right ALT tags, you can make do without an image sitemap. But if you are using JavaScript galleries or any other way of displaying images, it can become hard for search engines to know what your images are about. The easiest solution for this is the use of Image Sitemaps. Sitemaps essentially help search engines crawlers to find out the location of your images and their descriptive tags. You can read this XML guide to get a more detailed guideline on implementing great Sitemaps for your website’s images.

Use the right tags to optimize OpenGraph and Twitter appearance of images: If you share your post on Facebook and the post contains an image other than the main image of your post (such as your website’s header image), you lose the great potential audience that you could attract with the right image. It goes the same with Twitter. In order to make sure that social networks pick the right image from your shared links, be sure to include the right meta tags. Here’s an excellent guide on how to create the right tags for your website’s social media appearances.

Conclusion

Images add great value to your website’s content and are absolutely essential to attract readers from search engines and social networks. However, you must know how to implement images effectively so that they both attract users and help you improve your site’s SEO at the same time. If you already have an image-laden site, you have to ask yourself this: are you doing it

SEO: 7 Essential Metrics You Need to Monitor

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can be a very powerful strategy for driving traffic to your site. Once visitors land on your site, they can then be converted into leads, and eventually customers. However, to be sure that your SEO efforts are worth it, it is very important to measure your results on a regular basis. Interpreting your metrics correctly will give you an idea of what is working and what needs to be improved.

Here are some of the metrics you need to keep track of:

  1. Backlink tracking

Link building is an essential element of any SEO campaigns. The more links you have pointing back to your pages, the higher your website is likely to rank. Measuring your link building efforts involves looking at the quantity as well as quality of your backlinks. You will see how many links were generated by each of your SEO strategies. For instance, you might realize that out of 200 emails sent in your email marketing campaign, you got 10 links (which is a 5% link rate). In addition, tracking your links will help you build relationships with other site owners who seem to be interested in your content.

  1. Keyword ranking

This metric shows you how your site ranks in search engines for specific keywords. Measuring keyword ranking will tell you if you are targeting the right keywords, and whether their ranking is improving over time. The good news is that you don’t have to check your keyword rankings manually. There are numerous free tools out there that can come in handy. However, if you want more detailed results, it would be advisable to invest in a paid tool.

  1. Average time on page

People usually spend more time on web pages that are interesting and relevant. However, if they don’t find what they are looking for, they leave immediately. Therefore, it is very important to measure the average amount of time visitors are spending on your pages. The more time they spend, the higher your pages are likely to rank. To achieve a higher average time on-page, you need to find ways of improving your content so it can resonate better with your audience.

  1. Pages per visitor

When people visit your site, you would want them to look at other pages besides the initial landing page. This is why it is very important to measure the average pages per visitor. If the number is very low, you can improve it by inserting more internal links within your content. In addition, you could display links to related content in your site immediately after the post.

  1. Returning visitors

Returning visitors are very important for any business. Since they already know you and trust you, these are the people who are most likely to purchase your products or services. Therefore, when evaluating the success of your SEO campaigns, you should not only consider the number of new visitors you are getting, but also the number of returning visitors. You can improve the ratio of returning visitors by making your content more engaging and appealing.

Conclusion

Other metrics you need to keep track of include 404 page views, index status, traffic by device, crawl errors and page lead speed. Though measuring metrics can be very boring and time consuming, it is very crucial. Getting and analyzing the numbers will save you from wasting money and time on SEO strategies that produce a low return on investment.

The Importance of Webinars for Ecommerce Sites

Nowadays, many businesses all over the world have ecommerce sites where they sell all kinds of products and services. Some of the common strategies used to promote such sites include word of mouth promotion, creating blogs, writing product reviews, using social media, distributing flyers and buying Pay-per-click (PPC) ads. However, an often overlooked strategy for promoting online stores is webinars. Also referred to as video conferences, webinars are becoming increasingly popular tools for digital marketing. Webinars allow you to interact in real time with participants from anywhere in the world via audio or multicast video conferencing.

Here are some of the reasons why webinars are important for ecommerce sites:

  1. Affordability

Ecommerce sites can use webinars to market their products and services in an effective, affordable and repeatable manner. There are numerous webinar platforms out there which are either free or require you to pay a small monthly cost. Such platforms come with tools which allow you to easily invite prospects to webinars, monitor registrations, host webinars and monitor sales. This can be done over and over again, thus enhancing your chances of making more sales.

  1. Build credibility

One of the best ways of establishing credibility with your customers and prospects is through webinars. You can introduce yourself, share your values as a company and talk about the products and services you are offering. At the end of the webinar, you can have a question and answer session where objections and questions can be addressed. Once you have engaged with your prospects and built trust, you are likely to make more sales.

  1. Brand awareness

If a product or service is new in the market, webinars can be a great tool for creating brand awareness. You can talk about what you are offering and mention why it stands out from the competition. In addition, you can give your prospects and customers a practical demonstration of how your products work. Having this information will make it easier for prospects to make a buying decision.

  1. Training and education

Besides talking about your products and services, you could webinars to educate your customers and prospects about different topics which are related to your industry. For instance, if your ecommerce site sells books, you could offer training about effective reading techniques. Such how-to webinars will showcase your expertise and are likely to generate more interest in your products.

  1. Convenience

While making presentations ‘live’ has its merits, it is not always possible. Webinars offer ecommerce sites a convenient solution for reaching many customers and prospects from anywhere in the world. This saves the time and cost of travel that would have been incurred for live presentations.

  1. Generating leads

One of the best ways of making more sales from your ecommerce site is by creating a contact list of potential customers. Having such a list will allow you to keep your prospects updated on future promotions and offers. Webinars offer a great opportunity for generating leads and building a contact list. Even if someone does not buy anything right away, the fact that they signed up for your webinar shows that they are interested in what you have to offer. You can therefore capitalize on this interest by sending frequent updates via email.

  1. Attracting partnerships

One of the best ways of building partnerships is through affiliate marketing. Hosting webinars is one of the best ways of attracting affiliate marketers for your ecommerce site. As participants begin trusting your brand, they might be more willing to be involved as affiliates. With time, you could consider co-hosting webinars with other big players in your industry. Such webinars will give even more exposure to your ecommerce site.

 

Charles Mburugu is a professional blogger who writes on topics such as small business, ecommerce, technology, social media and entrepreneurship. Check out his blog TechBlogKe and connect with him on Twitter @techblogke

Tips for Making All of Your Content SEO Friendly

With each new piece of content generated, every business expects to get more website traffic and leads. However, just creating content (even if it’s really good) isn’t enough. You need to make sure that search engines will understand what your content is about and deliver it to the result pages of users who search for it.

Making your content SEO friendly is a fairly easy task and should be done by every business out there. SEO also makes creating content a lot easier. Here are a few tips on how to make this happen.

Think of your users and you will please search engines

Modern SEO techniques have shifted greatly. In the past it was all about using a certain keyword (or a phrase) as many times as possible in your content so that search engines would crawl and understand it easily. There wasn’t any user experience involved, nor there was a need for it.

Now, you will end up in Google’s “black list” if you so much as try to use the older ways of climbing the search engine ranks. When generating any kind of content, put yourself in your consumers’ shoes and think what kind of information they expect, when searching for a given keyword or phrase. Aim to satisfy your users, and search engines will reward you.

Don’t be general, be precise

Users appreciate concrete information about their search terms. For example if a user searches for “best ways to design your home for winter holidays” he probably wants to find concrete examples with illustrations and guidelines on how to actually design the house, and not something general like why designing your house for winter holidays is important. Patientsites for example is doing a great job in terms of offering precise answers to users’ questions.

Pay attention to formatting

Again, this is all about user experience. Even if you have the most precise information about a certain topic, if users cant consume it easily, they will just close their browser. Use meaningful subheadings, short paragraphs and bullet points to highlight important material.

Oftentimes, users first scroll your content from top to bottom, scanning it for any information that will catch their eye and hint them that they found what they were looking for, before getting down to actually reading it. Your job is to make this as easy as possible.

Make sure your content is error free

Even though content is still readable and understandable for users when you have some errors in it, it’s a big blow in terms of SEO and also hurts your credibility. If you are offering a tempting deal to your consumers, but you can’t express yourself without any grammatical errors or typos, it will make users reconsider their decision: How do you trust somebody with your money, when they can’t even use the language correctly.

Post links to high authority sites and make your content worthy of sharing

As you already understood, great user experience and SEO friendly content are basically the same thing. Adding relevant links from high authority sites, will improve user experience even more and at the same time boost your search engine rankings. Google loves good link building.

In addition to this, make your content worth sharing. If users like what they see, they are very likely to share it on social media, email it to a friend and practically increase your organic distribution, which in turn, will push your content higher in search results.

In short, don’t obsess over optimizing your content for SEO. Obsess over optimizing your content for user experience. Yes, there are still a few technical things that you need to take care of (like keywords in the headline, Meta descriptions, etc.) but that’s basically all there is to do. Focus on solving a consumer problem with each piece of killer content you generate and you will be in a good shape.

The market for Mobile Applications Continues to Grow

The cell phone will become the main access channel internet in the coming years. The figures reinforce the perception. According to Gartner, specializing in technology, the sales of apps for smartphones and tablets around the world should grow almost five times in the next few years.

This new portable digital universe had its big bang with the release of the iPhone 3G and Apple Store in 2008. The US company reinvented the marketing applications to take control of sales. The online store currently has 225,000 applications and reached 5 billion downloads from its creation to June 2010. The launch of the iPad in January, it gave further strength to the Apple Store. In one semester, the tablet collects 10,000 games, utilities and tools tailored to its format.

Just a few months after the debut of the Apple store, Google launched its counterattack, releasing Android, an open source operating system that can be used freely by any device manufacturer. Before long, traditional brands such as Motorola, LG, Sony Ericsson, Samsung and HTC have come to use the platform

Currently, there are dozens of models based on the interface. To further intensify the fight with the iPhone, Google has created its own app store, which already has more than 100,000 apps. Despite that, businesses have their own specific needs for apps, so custom apps that need to be developed. That is why reputable companies, such as Chelsea App Factory, have grown and are expected to grow even more.

Three Ways Using Excel Can Boost Your SEO Potential

Managing a successful SEO campaign without the use of any tools or external resources is like trying to buy 50 bags of groceries without a shopping cart – it won’t be long before you’re overloaded with more than you can handle.

As in every other advanced profession, the art and science of SEO requires certain equipment, often in the form of software, advanced data management methods, and in some cases, services that assist with the completion of tedious tasks.

One of the most essential tools in every SEO expert’s arsenal is Microsoft Excel, which lets you utilize spreadsheets and formulas to facilitate powerful analysis and planning. If you’re not convinced that you need Excel to achieve optimal SEO results, consider the following:

1. Saving Time By Centralizing and Organizing Analytics

When you’re using multiple analytics tools to gather data, switching between interfaces can be confusing and time-consuming. This is why most tools (i.e. – Google Analytics, OpenSiteExplorer, etc.) let you export data into .CSV, .TSV, and other Excel compatible formats. Once the data is exported you can open it up in Excel, and with the use of Pivot Tables and VLOOKUP you can combine data from multiple sources into a single spreadsheet that can be rearranged and sorted to suit your analytical needs.

2. Helping You Understand the Most Important Attributes and Statistics

By using Excel to bring all of your important SEO analysis under one roof, you’ll be able to better familiarize yourself with the attributes and statistics that matter most in each campaign. To gain a full understanding of how Excel can be used to master SEO, it would be wise to read up about using Excel for SEO. This will help you not only help you improve the rankings of your own sites and the sites of your current clients more quickly, it will also give you an essential skill set that is listed as a requirement in most SEO job descriptions – proficiency with Excel.

3. Simplifying Strategy Development

Excel spreadsheets make it easy to compile and sort lists of keywords, titles, topic ideas, inbound links, Page URLs and anything else that you might want to work on to build your rankings. Instead of jotting primitive notes down in a text document or on a piece of paper, consider the advantages brainstorming with Excel.

Every SEO Specialist Should Know How to Use Excel

If you’ve ever read job descriptions in the field of SEO, you’ve probably noticed that most of the positions require you to have at least a basic understanding of Excel. There’s a reason for this – along with Google Docs, Microsoft Excel is the industry standard for formula and spreadsheet-based data analysis. If you really want to be able to say you’re a master in SEO and have the skills to back up this claim, there’s no way around it, you’re going to need to learn how to use Excel.

Bundle Up Your TV, Phone, And Internet Services For Maximum Savings

If you have been searching for a fool proof way to minimize your monthly expenditure on your TV, phone, and Internet bills, you might be pleased as punch to discover that such a way does exist. Furthermore, you’ll be absolutely delighted to hear that’s easy as pie to get in on the ground floor of an excellent new savings plan that enables you to bundle up all of your outgoing payments for these services into one handy new payment plan that enables you to save money, even as you spend it.

What Is Bundling, And Why Is It Able To Save You Money?

If you are new to the concept of bundling, it won’t take long for you to read this article and get up to speed. Basically, the concept is as simple as it is effective. Instead of paying three separate service providers for your Internet, phone, and TV services, why not receive all of these important services direct from one provider?

Not only will you immediately do away with the hassle of having to pay out three separate bills per month, but you will also never again have to worry about deciding which service you can do without while you wait on getting the money to pay all of these bills. Instead of spending big bucks on multiple bills, why not consolidate them all, and pay one special guaranteed low rate for all of them at once?

It Stands To Reason That The Simpler Way Is The Better Way

When you stop to think about it in a logical and practical matter, it only makes sense, doesn’t it? It simply stands to reason that the simpler way is the better way. You no longer have to juggle all of your outgoing payments against your incoming profits. You no longer have to beg, borrow, or steal from one company to pay off another. Bundling removes all of the guess work from the equation.

The new bundling system, available from ACN Inc, lets you pay for everything, all at once, and receive all of the services you desire and deserve. It’s simply the more efficient and more cost effective way to go. If you are interested in learning more about this amazing new service plan, please contact ACN directly. This is one investment that you simply can’t afford to miss out on.