Search engine optimization for small and very small businesses.

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5 Ways to Get Traffic Without Paying

Traffic is the goal.Traffic is the goal.

Traffic is how your website pays its way. High traffic results in more paying customers for you. Recognition of the need to improve traffic on your website is probably why you’re here, reading this blog right now. And there’s no shortage of people eager to take your money in exchange for promises of more traffic. Sadly, not all of them are worth the cost.

The good news

According to Longhorn Leads,

many methods of attracting viewers cost little or no money. Small business owners can spend a little time on promotion and get the same results as the big companies who outsource their internet marketing without spending fortunes on advertising.

Hannah Howard explains five ways to increase your traffic at little or no cost:

  1. Join the blogosphere. Posting comments on blogs related to your business. They usually allow a link back to your site connected with your comment.
  2. Exploit social media and guest posting. You can request links to your blog from other, related blogs. See our list of suggested blogs on the right as an example. Writing guest posts on others’ blogs gains additional exposure and links.
  3. Take advantage of free postings on classified websites. The best known of these is CraigsList.org, but Hannah lists others you should also consider.
  4. Participate in article marketing. This isn’t as strong since the Panda and Penguin Google updates, but if you write articles other webmasters use on their websites, the “about the author” blurb can provide a highly relevant link back to your website.
  5. Don’t ignore the classic press release. If you have something newsworthy to say, by all means get the word out with press releases. There are several free online press release services that can give your story legs.

Check our Hannah’s full article for more ideas on how to leverage these traffic sources.

Is Poor Readability Driving People Away?

How readable is your copy?

You’re probably not a professional writer, so you may be excused for not realizing if your website copy isn’t “readable”. After all, it’s in plain English, right? But readability is more than that. AJ Kohn points out the importance of readability on your website:

Readability is about making your content accessible and comfortable. Never make it a chore. If you make your content difficult to read the value of that content goes down. Lack of readability frustrates comprehension and reduces sharing. This, in turn, limits the social echo of your content and lowers the chances of it obtaining organic links.

Here’s your clue

Heed the warning sign of a high bounce rate.If poor readability is driving away visitors on your website, the clue will be a high bounce rate  — the percentage of visitors who leave immediately after arriving on a page without looking at anything else on your site. If you have that problem, you may have a readability problem.

AJ provides a valuable guide to producing readable content. Here are the bullet points, but you’ll need to read his article tor the background and explanations.

  • People Don’t Read, They Scan
  • Use A Font Hierarchy
  • Subheads Are Your Friends
  • Legibility Matters
  • Get Line Height Just Right
  • Color Contrast
  • Highlight The Important Stuff
  • Use Short Paragraphs
  • Crush Pronouns
  • Use Images
  • Reduce Clutter
  • Link Your Paragraphs
  • Reading Difficulty

Need help with copy readability or a high bounce rate? If we can’t help, we can refer you to someone who can. Call us.

 

6 Online Mistakes That Make People Click Away

The Gong Show

Dierdre Rienzo at MarketItWrite asks:

The Gong ShowDo you remember “The Gong Show”?

Brave contestants would go on stage and display their talents (or lack thereof) in front of three judges. If the contestants made a mistake, or just didn’t impress… GONG. Game over.

The world of online business has a gong equivalent. It’s called your bounce rate, and it tracks how often prospects click away without bothering to learn more.

When prospects click away, it means your time is up. It means you won’t get any more chances to win them over with your products or services.

Your bounce rate is available from your site analytics (like Google Analytics) and if it’s too high, you’re losing business. As a benchmark, most of our clients have a bounce rate between 39% and 69%. Don’t get discouraged if you’re a bit high because typical bounce rates vary depending on the kind of business/website you own. If yo’d like to reduce your bounce rate, though, take a look at your web page content.

As a copywriter, Dierdre is particularly sensitive to copywriting errors that raise your bounce rate. In her article, she explains six online writing mistakes that you should avoid. Use her explanations to look at your web copy with a new perspective. How many of the errors she discusses have you made in the copy on your site? Go ahead and fix them now. It’s never too late. Why not do it now?

Once that’s done, if you’d like some professional help with your on-page keyword optimization, please get in touch with us.

Help! Is My Website Copy Over-Optimized?

Rankings fell after Penguin updateDid your rankings drop around the end of April?

The recent Google Penguin update is focused on web sites that are over-optimized and have been getting better rankings than they really deserve as a result. Some of what Google is looking for relates to unnatural link structure. But a lot of what they are penalizing sites for is copy that’s been over-optimized. If you saw a significant drop in your Google rankings around the end of April of this year, that may be a signal that your website has come to the attention of the Penguin algorithm change. Asking yourself three important questions can reveal whether or not you stepped over the line and need to make some changes to your copy.

Three Over-Optimization Questions

  1. How does your website sound when you read it out loud?
    If it sounds awkward or if it feels like you are tripping over one or another of your keyword phrases too often, then you may have crossed the line. Look for places in your copy where the keyword phrase isn’t needed, and drop it.
  2. Did you try to achieve a certain keyword density?
    Keyword density is a persistent myth, with many believers struggling to achieve a certain percentage of the words on the page being keyword phrases. This is a major item that Google’s latest update is focusing on. If you’ve been trying to achieve a certain density of keywords, you may have stepped over the line. Remove or paraphrase some of your keyword phrases in copy and read it out loud to yourself again.
  3. Does your copy suffer from logorrhea?
    If you wrote a lot more words that needed just so that you could work more keyword phrases into your copy, chances are that’s hurting you. When we pad our copy in order to work in keyword phrases, we typically don’t actually add more valuable information to the page. We restate things and we paraphrase thoughts, sentences, and even whole paragraphs  — and all that allows us to work our keyword phrases onto the page more times. That’s a mistake. If you have more words than you need to make your point it hurts you two ways. First it may trigger the over-optimization flag at Google, and second it may be driving visitors away from your page. If there’s too much text on your page visitors find it intimidating and either don’t read all of it or leave the page without reading any of it. The trick is to write as much as necessary about the topic and no more. Blaise Pascal once wrote “I would have written a shorter letter but didn’t have time.” On your website, take the time.

Have questions? We welcome comments and try to respond promptly.

Do your rankings need improvement? Rank Magic can help.

10 Social Media Tasks for Your To-Do List

Pay attention to your social media.PR Daily has published a list of 10 social media tasks for Public Relations professionals, and there are some excellent ideas in there for small business owners as well. As they point out:

Social media will suck up as much time as you let it. Balancing social media activity with the meaningful work and relationships we have in real life is vital.

Boy, is that true! Someone I know claims to spend two hours a day on Twitter for business, and I have to wonder how she gets any real work done. By way of full disclosure, I have to admit I don’t do nearly everything in this list, and would never insist you need to do all of it. If you can do even some of these things, though, it will help with your online visibility and reputation.

Here’s a bullet list of the items; see the article in PR Daily for elaboration on each.

  1. Check your Twitter picture
  2. Write a better Twitter profile
  3. Create and nurture your LinkedIn profile
  4. Start a blog or website (You’re already doing both of these, right?)
  5. Use Buffer
  6. Use HootSuite
  7. Share images on an uber-visual site, such as Instagram or Pinterest
  8. Check your Klout score
  9. Check your Kred
  10. Get to know Google Alerts