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July 12, 2017

Optimizing an E-Commerce Page

When it comes to ecommerce, conversions are key. Turning a site visitor’s interest into a purchase is tricky. If you’re not selling face-to-face, is your ecommerce page correctly set up to do the sales pitch for you?

While there is not a single product page out there with a 100% conversion rate, there are basic, proven methods you can use on your pages to increase the chances of the customer hitting that all-important add to cart button.

Proper URL Structure

First things first, customers need to be able to navigate to your website. A clean URL structure is essential if you want your page to be indexed and hopefully ranked by search engines. Avoid multiple domains, keep them short and readable.

Good URL: vapestore.com/blog/7-best-vaporizers/

Bad URL: vapestore.com/d?=6r77<!~

On a basic level, avoid using unnecessary characters, omit stop words, and limit the number of redirects if you’ve decided to change a URL or delete a page. If you can put your exact keyword in the URL in a way that makes sense, great.

Formulating a Title

The page title and SEO title describe what is on your product page to both consumers and search engines. Titles should be short, concise, and accurately describe the product. Avoid long titles packed with specs and keywords. This can appear spammy to search engines, and searchers will most likely not click on search results with these types of titles. Save the details about the product for the product description!

The title should include the product name, brand name, and attempt to reflect a search query related to that particular product.

Correct title code:

<head>
 <title>Example Title</title>
</head>

Keep in mind that Google will display about 60 characters. If your title is any longer it will get cut off. You can use SEO plugins to avoid any character limit issues.

Compelling Meta Descriptions

A proper meta description is a summary of the contents of the page. The meta is the short snippet of text below the blue link in search results.

This example is a meta description for the homepage of Kannakart Online Headshop. To make the description compelling, they’ve included products they offer such as bongs, glass pipes, vaporizers, and accessories so that the searcher can decide if it’s a link they want to click on. They also mention that they offer free shipping in the U.S. which could make their search result more enticing to click on.

Meta descriptions can be any length. However, it is best to keep them under 160 characters to avoid them being cut off.

<head>
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description.”>
</head>

Just like with titles, you can use this HTML code or use an SEO plugin to formulate the meta description.

These descriptions are not ranking factors, meaning that they should be crafted with only the consumer in mind and avoid misplaced keywords and ditch the meta keywords. Writing compelling copy that draws the searcher in is the best way to craft a meta description.

Rich Product Descriptions

The title successfully describes the product you are selling to both consumers and search engines. Providing details and specifications is the next step. Adding a product description to your ecommerce pages indicates to search engines that there is valuable content on that particular product page.

A correctly optimized product description should be no less than 300 words and avoid keyword stuffing. Although keyword density isn’t as important as it once was, keywords should only be placed in a way that makes sense.

Product descriptions are obviously written as a sales pitch, no matter how creative or witty. To capture the more skeptical consumer, consider adding a product review section in an easy-to-find spot on the product page, as well as social sharing buttons.

These forms of social proof can help influence purchasing decisions of future site visitors.

Images That Sell

Product images can be a make or break factor when it comes to closing a sale online. Even if your page has a beautiful layout, description, and review platform, a grainy product image can close the door on any potential sale that you may have had.

If you’re taking your own product images, invest in a quality camera and put your beloved iPhone aside. Make sure to get shots from multiple angles and save the images as a file type and resolution that is conducive to a product page.

So we don’t ignore search engines in all of this, don’t forget the image title and alt attributes!

Don’t Ignore UX

A lot of marketers get caught up optimizing their pages to appeal only to search engines and forget about the actual person who is navigating through the website, category pages, and product pages. User experience is massively important for both ranking and closing sales.

So you wrote a 500-word, keyword rich product description? Awesome. Your meta descriptions and titles are perfect for Google? Great.

Be sure that your product pages are visually appealing and are easy to navigate. Avoid dead end pages on your website and make sure that users can easily get from your home page to your product pages and vice versa.

Visitors should easily be able to select color options, click through images, find the add-to-cart button, and navigate to their shopping cart.

A good rule of thumb is to use your favorite ecommerce sites for inspiration. While your product pages should be uniquely crafted around the products you’re selling, there is no need to reinvent the wheel.

Always Adjust

Now that you’ve crafted an optimized ecommerce product page, always look for ways to make it better. Take note of which products sell best on your website and use their pages as a template to bolster your products that aren’t performing as well.

Search engines value fresh content, so if you haven’t made any changes to a page in a while try revamping the product description or add new pictures and product videos.

July 12, 2017

6 Actionable SEO Techniques

When you’re constantly handling administrative tasks, business development, meetings, and interviews, you can barely find the time during the week to devote to anything else. Frustrating right?

The list can seem never-ending; trust us, we’re grinding every day just like you.

To the detriment of business growth and exposure, SEO and content marketing are often some of the first activities that get the axe from swamped business owners.

We believe that SEO is an essential business activity, especially in the fast growing cannabis industry where startups need to become visible online.

Here are a few actionable SEO techniques that you can get done during a lunch break, between meetings, or any other time you stumble upon a few precious, unoccupied minutes during the day.

1. Start a Blog

Content marketing is a rather large cog in the SEO machine. Search engines love informative, visual, and valuable content that satisfies the questions of searchers. Add a blog page to your website so that when you have the time, you can start publishing your own content.

If you have a couple hours free, consider writing a 750-word post to put up on your blog page. This can help drive traffic to your website and provides information of value to your website visitors.

2. Claim Your Google Business Listing

This is especially important if your business has a storefront. Before you do this you should double check that you don’t already have a listing, as duplicate listings can create some problems.

Adding high-quality images of the interior and exterior of your business will provide customers. Also, ensure that all of your information listed is accurate and up to date.

“Near me” searches and hyper-local marketing are becoming increasingly important in the SEO landscape. Claiming your Google business listing and accurately completing it is a small but useful technique.

3. Keyword Research

Discovering what terms your customers are searching for is critical. Brainstorm a list of keywords and keyphrases that you believe your customers might be typing into search engines to find your website.

Once you have a list compiled, start conducting some searches yourself to see if your website is displayed in the search results for these terms.

When you’ve determined the keywords you want to rank for, start incorporating them into your blog posts and website pages!

4. Optimize a Page

If you have an ecommerce store or large website this can be extremely beneficial. Take a little bit of time each day to optimize a page on your website, including category pages, blog posts, product pages, informative pages, etc.

This activity involves optimizing titles, metas, descriptions, permalinks, images, alt text, reviews, and more on each page. Check out our guide here to learn more about what goes into properly optimizing a page for search.

5. Get Active on Social Media

Even if you’re too busy to post regularly, you should set up social media accounts for your brand, making sure that they’re fitted with an appropriate image, website link, and description.

Creating these accounts provides your website with a few links that can benefit SEO, and you’ll be able to post when you have the time. Having active social channels that provide value and interaction can drive website traffic and even close sales.

6. Check for Broken Links

It’s always good to perform routine site checkups to make sure your website and selling platforms are running smoothly. You can do this manually by clicking around through your website and ensure that your site navigation is the way you want it. Also check menus, footer links, sidebar links, and anywhere else there might be a problem.

If you come across any broken links, 404 errors, or outdated content, be sure to create new content or correctly redirect the page to an appropriate spot on your site.

Find Out What Works for You

Not all of these activities will show immediate results for every type of business. However, sticking to an SEO and content marketing campaign will pay off in the long run. If you’re not able to fit all of these activities into your daily work agenda, try playing around with some on-page SEO, social media, and blogging to see which practices are delivering the most results.

This way, when you have more time down the road or decide to outsource activities, you’ll know exactly which efforts you want to delegate.

July 11, 2017

Can Cannabis Save the NFL?

The Impact of High Impact Sports

Despite unprecedented television ratings and soaring popularity, the future of the America’s most popular sports league remains uncertain.  This uncertainty stems from an influx of statistics and new information regarding concussions caused by impact sustained by countless collisions on the field.  Links have been made between these concussions and neurological disorders such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

An increasing number of NFL retirees are coming forward with their experiences with health issues such as CTE, which they believe to have stemmed from their time playing professional football.  Many former players who experienced concussions during their career are now battling depression, memory loss, and other neurological issues.  Junior Seau was an NFL player who committed suicide in 2012 and was afterward diagnosed with CTE, which is only able to be detected after death.

In March of this year, the NFL finally acknowledged a link between head injuries sustained during football collisions and CTE.  This is following a string of players who decided to retire early during the prime of their careers, such as 23-year-old A.J. Tarpley.  Tarpley was a promising young linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, who decided to call it quits after sustaining the 4th concussion of his career.  The NFL formally recognizing this issue is a step in the right direction, as the concussion problem is rightfully being viewed as a huge risk to the health and safety of NFL players and their families.

A Fix in Plain Sight

Another recurring discussion in modern football is the NFL’s strict drug policy.  Approved by the NFL Players Association, the league’s drug policy places a ban on cannabis.  Although banned, the most recent league drug policy reclassified cannabis as a “substance of abuse” as opposed to placing it in the same category as performance enhancing drugs.  Players violating the rules regarding cannabis use face fines and suspensions, such as Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns.  Gordon has faced multiple suspensions, including a year-long suspension without pay in 2014.

Despite the strict rules in place, many retired NFL players are open about their use of cannabis throughout their careers, and into retirement.  Even current players confirm that the use of cannabis is common in the NFL, whether it be for recreation, pain relief, or concussion prevention.  

There are chemicals found in cannabis, such as THC, that are capable of relieving pain as well as protecting the brain.  Research on the topic is in its early stages, however, studies suggest that cannabis may reduce stress on the brain that results from head injuries.

As more of this research surfaces and cannabis becomes legal in an increasing number of states, the NFL would be wise to reevaluate their position concerning cannabis use.  Although the NFL policies correlate with actual laws and statutes, undeniable medical benefits of cannabis should at least start a conversation about the league’s strict drug policy.

The NFL cares about the safety of its players and seeks improvements through more advanced equipment and updated rules of the game.  Wouldn’t it be wise for the league to remain consistent by reconsidering its cannabis ban?  If cannabis increases the safety of players, prevents concussions, and provides a better life after football, it should be viewed as a viable solution just like any of the other preventive measures already put in place.

January 25, 2017

The 2017 SEO Beginner’s Guide Checklist

 

Ready to dive into your first SEO campaign? Picking up where you left off a few months ago? Make sure you are utilizing these basic SEO tactics. How far along are you? Find out now with our 2017 SEO checklist!

1→ Data Tracking. Incorporate Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager to identify and evaluate traffic, conversions and to benchmark growth.

2→ Google My Business. Include business name, address, phone number, and hours on GMB to strengthen local listing results.

3→ Existing site errors? Use Google Search Console (Webmaster Tools) to identify bad links and other errors related to your core page elements.

4→ Keywords and placement. Placing your primary keyword into your page URL and title tag is highly encouraged. Use Google’s Keyword Planner or SEM Rush. Synonyms are essential.

5→ Page load speed. Make use of Google’s Pagespeed Insights to determine whether or not your website’s load time is harming user experience. Google heavily values this variable in regards to your page rank.

6→ Competitor Research. Browse competitor websites and social channels to get an idea of competitor keyword and content strategies in your industry.

7→ Content Creation. Create content that directly links to your website and social profiles, and include as many quality keywords you can without redundancy. Shares on this content will increase traffic to your website, increasing both your page and domain authority in the eye’s of Google

8→ Image Optimization. Add keyword-relevant ALT tags, Title tags, and descriptions to each image. Google identifies images through these tags and is an essential part of on-page SEO.

9→ Backlinking Strategy. Backlinking entails linking to other websites for both inbound and outbound URLs. Post original blogs, comment on blogs, and always include a link to your page.

10→ Social Media. Create a social schedule for posting relevant information everyday. Follow influential leaders, engage with followers, and keep content fresh and consistent.

11→ URL structure. Your products/services must be accessible by no more than 3 clicks from your homepage. The focus keyword should also be the focal point of the URL structure. I.e. product page: www.example.com/shop/product

12→ Participate in industry discussions. The wider your digital presence, the more likely your site will receive follow-up clicks. This can be done through Facebook groups, LinkedIn, Google forums, Reddit, and industry specific niche sites.

13→ E-commerce optimization. Categorize products properly and thoroughly, avoiding duplicate content, and make buyer feedback/reviews visible to your customers.

14→ Email campaigns. No better way to keep your customers updated than to send daily, weekly, or monthly newsletters. Programs such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact can be configured for full-scale marketing automation.

15→  Local Listings. Maintain your business information on local directory sites such as Foursquare, Angie’s List, Yahoo, Yelp and an abundance of others.

Is your SEO checklist complete? Contact andrew@smokinhotsolutions.com to uncover intermediate to advanced strategies for ranking your small business in 2017. Visit smokinhotsolutions.com to learn more.

January 24, 2017

What does a Mobile-First Index Mean for Your SEO?

What Exactly is Indexing?

In a nutshell, crawling is Google’s process of discovering new pages by following links from page to page. After Google crawls the pages of your website and finds your content, it indexes them and stores them in a database. Once stored, Google will use these copies in algorithms that determine search engine results pages (SERPs).  Google is changing its methods of crawling through sites, so it is important that you consider how your website will be affected by the changes that come with a mobile-first index.

What is Google Changing?

Google has officially begun to modify the way that it crawls through websites.  Up until now, Google would crawl sites and index pages for SERP’s as a desktop user. This method of indexing is a way of the past now, as Google will now crawl and index as a mobile user. Here are a few impacts that it will have on your website, and how you can make sure you don’t fall behind as desktop search importance declines.

You’ll Need a Mobile Friendly Template

Most Google searches originate from mobile platforms, and up to this point, Google indexed as a desktop user. If you don’t currently have a mobile site, don’t panic. Google will continue to index your pages as a desktop user. However, you will need to make your website mobile responsive ASAP, as it will begin to hurt you by not having one.  Once you have a mobile responsive website built, you should use the robots.txt testing tool to confirm that Googlebot is accessing your new mobile site.  Be sure to complete your mobile site before launching, as a compatible desktop site will be more visible to Google than an incomplete mobile version.

While a mobile friendly site isn’t a requirement, you should adopt a mobile friendly template sooner rather than later as a mobile friendly designation will allow you to rank higher in search results.

Google May Miss Your Desktop Content

If the content on your mobile and desktop sites is not consistent, Google may fail to index it. In short, if there is content on your desktop site that is not on your mobile site, Google will miss it entirely. To prevent your pages from being missed, avoid complicated redirects and optimize your desktop and mobile pages for the same keywords. These methods will keep your pages consistent and visible to Google’s crawling robot.

While you may not see changes immediately, your search rankings will take a hit over time as Google transitions to strictly mobile indexing. For this reason, adopting a mobile compatible theme is imperative to staying competitive.

Things to Keep in Mind

Google offers the following tips to prepare for a mobile-first index:

  • If you have a responsive site where the content is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you do not have to change anything.
  • If you have a site configuration where content is different across mobile and desktop, you should make some changes to your site.
  • Verify the mobile version of your site in Search Console.
  • If you do not have a mobile optimized site, you need to build one
  • If you only have a desktop site, it will continue to be indexed.

Is your SEO mobile checklist complete? Contact andrew@smokinhotsolutions.com to uncover intermediate to advanced strategies for ranking your small business in 2017. Visit smokinhotsolutions.com to learn more.