Link Building 101

We talk a lot about developing a content strategy for your website. The idea is to transform your digital space into an informational hub from which visitors gain instant value. Content strategy often remains on-site, meaning the content resides within your dot-com. Sometimes your brand will contribute content to sites other than your own, in the form of guest blogging. This is a link building tactic.

1) What is Link Building?

To put it simply, it is the act of proactively seeking referrals to your website from another in the form of links.

2) Why is link building important?

Link building is the single most critical factor when it comes to ranking. Keywords are important, too, but the search engine algorithms have been modified to place a higher emphasis on links.

Higher Education Marketing Keyword Research

At Evolve Digital Labs we pride ourselves on keyword research. It’s a critical component of SEO audits and a benefit for brands to make sure they are targeting the correct audience. Keyword research is the foundation for implementing successful paid search campaigns and bolstering website content which drives conversions.

Advantages for Higher Education

The advantages of thoughtful and efficient keyword research for Higher Education institutes cannot be undersold. Universities both large and small are facing shrinking budgets, and an applicant pool, which assumes the education investment, is not worth the cost.

Those contributing factors make marketing initiatives all the more important, especially as it relates to cost-efficiency. Our goal in executing keyword research is to determine the terms and phrases prospective students are searching for to find a solution. Keyword research needs to be at the core of the marketing plan to ensure organizations are getting the most traffic for their investment.

Evolve Digital Labs analyzes five components for keyword research, including search volume by keyword, organic difficulty, client’s customers, client’s products/services and the client’s consumer path.

Segmenting Keywords

By segmenting keywords into campaigns we’re able to assess phrases in terms of search volume and organic difficulty.

Search volume relies on the number of national searches for a term each month, these terms are often broad vs. very specific queries for a brand or product – thus they are harder to rank for.

Organic difficulty is set up on a zero to 100 scale, with 100 being the most difficult. Organic difficulty is calculated based upon the total effort of competition in the search engines. Because the scale is incremental, ranking organically for high difficulty terms should be considered a long-term goal.

MBA Program SERP

In this case, the phrases at the top are paid, while those below ranked organically. There are a few colleges listed, vs. Wikipedia entries, and media articles. The organic difficulty for the term “MBA Program” and the search volume are both high, meaning ranking or moving up on the SERP will take time.

Higher Education marketing keyword research has multiple applications for growth in terms of both paid and organic strategies.

Paid Search Application

Like other businesses higher education organizations will have keywords which are difficult to rank for organically. Improving a website’s authority, to be capable of ranking in organic positions for recommended terms, requires a strategic plan and can be time-consuming. Paid search offers the flexibility of short-term exposure to targeted audiences, as organic efforts get underway. In cases where pages do rank organically, paid search for targeted “brand” terms may still be used to keep competitors from stealing prospective traffic.

Organic Search Application

Organic strategy should start by targeting terms from the keyword research that contain moderate search volume and moderate to low organic difficulty. Those keywords will allow for “quick wins” on the search engine results page, while concurrent site improvements and content optimization will help organizations eventually rank for significant more difficult terms.

For some universities keyword research may only be a component of paid search, but it should be at the forefront of all aspects of a higher education marketing plan.

Download our FREE online market audit checklist to learn more about our approach and how we can help your organic and paid search efforts.

A Few of Our Favorite SEO Tools

Have you ever sat down and thought about the tools that make your job easier? From a laptop, phone and Wi-Fi to search engines, Excel, PowerPoint, SlideShare, Dropbox and Microsoft Word.

The digital strategists and PPC managers at Evolve Digital Labs recently compiled a list of some of our favorite tools that make us more efficient and improve outcomes when it comes to SEO and SEM.

Google Adwords is at the center of most digital marketing campaigns. As a Google partner the Evolve team uses Adwords daily.

Included in Adwords are two features that make life easier and increase the cost-effectiveness of ad spending. Those are the Keyword Tool and Traffic Estimator.

Keyword Tool provides search volume for keyword lists, however the values it returns are estimates and can be wildly inaccurate especially for low-mid search volume terms.

A better solution to get the true search volume is to use the Traffic Estimator tool. We do a traffic estimate for sites and keyword lists using the maximum bid ($100) to get the true search volume for those terms.

If your keyword list is large, (>2k) you can still use this method via the Adwords API and a little scripting know-how.

SEO Mofos Search Snippet Tools  helps quickly visualize and show examples of what SERPs will look like.

Mofo Snippet

Microsoft SEO Tools are helpful options for improving Bing SEO, as most other tools available are geared to optimize for Google.

Excel sheets are something Evolve’s PPC managers pour over hourly scanning thousands of keywords and search queries for clients like Merck and Charter Spectrum. It helps to have a few easy tricks to make working with Excel and endless data a little easier.

The Pivot Tables function allows users to look at account data for top-level analysis like campaigns, or ad groups. It can also quickly drill down all the way to keyword level to find which KWs are either driving the success of a campaign or holding it back.

The Find/Replace tool helps clean up data, which is one of the most important keys to big data sets and being able to quickly analyze and make accurate cost-effective decisions.

Everyone knows how to use VLOOKUP and what it does, but a free add-in in Excel called Fuzzy Lookup can help by matching up two datasets. Like Vlookup, Fuzzy can compare two unique columns between 2 sets of data. However Fuzzy can match up two columns from each side. So you can match First Names, and Last names that may not be in the same columns without concatenating. Fuzzy is free and takes a little practice to understand how it works. There is a limit on the size of data but for a couple 100,000 rows of data it works great.

All of our clients undergo an audit to identify opportunities for growth. “Found SEO Tool” (UK) is a straightforward audit resource that provides insight into what to fix on a website, like Screaming Frog it’s used more for analysis than an SEO road map.

Webmaster Tools are critical during the audit phase; we use those insights to highlight the next steps. We pay incredibly close attention to impression data, query data and CTR to analyze organic performance and potential.

Onsite improvements and shortcomings are identified with several Google resources, including the Page Speed and mobile friendliness tests.

Those are just a few of our top tools, to learn more about how we can put them to work for you get in touch with us. If you’ve got a unique ‘go to’ SEO/SEM tool that you’d like to share, let us know!

 

 

Robots.txt vs. noindex: What’s the difference and when to use which?

Earlier this week, I discovered that several of our uploaded images were being assigned a unique URL and indexed in Google. While itas not likely that someone would be performing a site search of evolvedigitallabs.com, it is still alarming to see pages I didnat know existed floating around the SERPs.

There are a couple ways to prevent search bots from showing a websiteas pages in the results. One is adding the URL(s) to the robots.txt file. Another way a the more effective way in many cases a is by using meta tags to instruct robots what you want them to do. This post explains each route and provides some scenarios so you can better understand which way to go. It can be confusing.

404 Errors: What do they mean for SEO?

A 404 Not Found error can be a terrible disruption to user experience, particularly when it is not customized to reflect the brand of the website you are trying to navigate. Because visitors are forced to backtrack and reassess which page to visit next. Often, users simply leave.