Gate Customer Newsletter
Issue: December 2014

Promote Your Site: Googlebot and SEO

When you build your own website, there are a number of essential factors to consider. These are not limited to the brand messaging, products or services to be featured and other content included on the platform. However, if the website is not optimized for search engines, users will have a very hard time finding – let alone visiting – the page.

For this reason, it is incredibly important that e-commerce firms, as well as businesses in every industry, pay close attention to their online presence. Understanding how Google finds and ranks your website in its search results can make all the difference. Taking this a step further with content marketing specifically geared for search engine optimization is a smart move that every company should consider.

First things first: Googlebot

Before the optimization process can begin, business leaders and website administrators must have a clear understanding of the steps taken by Google to examine and rank the website. Google uses three strategies for its search: crawling, indexing and serving.

  • Crawling: According to Google, crawling is when Googlebot – the program that fetches or crawls the billions of websites on the Internet – discovers pages that will be added to the Google index. Googlebot, also known as a robot, bot or spider, leverages an algorithm created by Google that specifies what pages the bots will crawl, how often, and how many pages will be fetched from each site for the index. “Google’s crawl process begins with a list of Web page URLs, generated from previous crawl processes, and augmented with Sitemap data provided by webmasters,” Google explained. “As Googlebot visits each of these websites, it detects links on each page and adds them to its list of pages to crawl.”
  • Indexing: The next step is indexing, where Googlebot creates a list of words, content tags and attributes, as well as their locations on each page. Some content, such as rich media files or dynamic pages, cannot be processed.
  • Serving: This is the phase where the search results are offered up to the user. Google takes into account more than 200 different factors to determine a website’s relevancy, and therefore its search ranking. One of these considerations is the website’s PageRank. “PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages,” Google noted. “In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site’s PageRank.”

Best practices for SEO

Armed with an in-depth understanding of how Googlebot works, website administrators can then utilize certain best practices to ensure that their pages are optimized for high search result rankings. These include:

  • The use of proper links: Google noted that its bots do not treat all links equally. “Google works hard to improve the user experience by identifying spam links and other practices that negatively impact search results,” the company stated. For this reason, decision-makers must be careful about the incoming and outgoing links included on their websites. For instance, Google frowns upon links that lead to spam pages or don’t add anything to the content being presented. The firm recommends leveraging links that enhance the quality of the content.
  • Keep it simple: KISSmetrics advised not getting too fancy with the design and layout of the website as frameworks like JavaScript, Flash and HTML are not crawled by Googlebot. This means that these elements can prevent a website from even being seen by Google’s spiders. In this spirit, administrators should approach their website design in a streamlined manner, ensuring that all unnecessary bells and whistles are avoided or removed.
  • Consider your robots.txt strategy: Feedthebot pointed out that every website uses the robots.txt file to manage how Google connects with its pages. In a nutshell, webmasters can use this file to specify what content bots should crawl, where they shouldn’t go. This can be used to a website’s advantage. “The less Googlebot is spending time on unnecessary sections of your site, the more it can crawl and return the more important sections of your site,” KISSmetrics noted.
  • Update and add new content: While PageRank determines the frequency of crawls, Google will likely place a higher importance on websites with newer content when pages are similarly ranked, KISSmetrics pointed out. Keeping this in mind, including fresh content can mean the difference in search ranking. “You win if you get your low PageRank pages crawled more frequently than the competition,” noted online marketing expert A.J. Kohn.

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In This Issue
Promote Your Site: Googlebot and SEO
Google Wallet vs. Apple Pay: How Will You Pay for the Holidays?
5 Tips for Aligning Your Marketing and SEO Strategies
Connect with Us on Social Media
Happy Holidays
Do-It-Yourself Web Presence

Dec. 2, 2014
Public Relations Tips For Small Town Folks

Dec. 1, 2014
The Search Advertising Move That Gets You More Customers: Ad Extensions
Nov. 12, 2014
The 10 Essential Tips for B2B Marketing Success in a Digital Economy

Google Wallet vs. Apple Pay: How Will You Pay for the Holidays?

The holiday shopping season is just around the corner and there are a number of things retailers should do to prepare. One aspect many companies still need to address is the range of payment options customers will seek to utilize as they purchase gifts.

Although Google Wallet has been around for some time, its popularity is on the rise thanks to similar emerging technologies. One such system is Apple Pay, the new digital wallet feature included on Apple’s recently released iOS 8. Tech Times contributor Nicole Arce noted that Google Wallet, an Android mobile payment system, was first on the market, but didn’t see the mass utilization many were hoping for. This may change as Apple’s new technology heralds an age of widespread consumer use of mobile payment systems.

“Considering Apple’s influence and track record of changing consumer behavior, Apple Pay could finally make secure mobile payments more mainstream,” Arce wrote.

With the holiday season quickly approaching, retailers need to be aware of these emerging technologies, how they work and what it will mean for their business. Let’s take a look at two of the most popular systems today: Apple Pay and Google Wallet.

The basics: Google Wallet

According to Google, the company’s mobile payment option is a secure way to pay for goods and services. It can also be used to send money to recipients both online and within brick-and-mortar stores. The system features Google Wallet Fraud Protection, encryption protection, and can be remotely disabled should the app or physical card linked with the account be lost or stolen. The program also includes a four-digit PIN used to unlock the application and send funds. Users can also benefit from the system’s notifications, which alert both the sender and receiver when money is transmitted.

The basics: Apple Pay

Apple Pay is comparable to Google Wallet in that it allows for transactions online and in physical retail locations. Apple Pay also features a range of security measures to ensure protected financial transfers, including using the Find My iPhone app to suspend the program or completely wipe the device. However, as opposed to Google Wallet’s PIN system, Apple Pay enables users to utilize the phone’s Touch ID biometrics system, as opposed to just a passcode.

The technology behind digital wallets

Both Apple Pay and Google Wallet leverage near-field communication technology to function. This allows device owners to simply hold the NFC antenna their phone is equipped with near a retailers’ contactless reader to make a purchase. Currently, a number of companies accept NFC payments, including restaurant chains like McDonald’s and Subway, retail stores like Foot Locker and Macy’s and drug stores like Walgreens. As this type of payment option becomes increasingly popular other businesses are very likely to begin to accept it as well. However, they will have to equip their websites and physical stores with the necessary hardware and e-commerce software solutions to allow for this type of payment.

The potential for a secure alternative

Tech CheatSheet contributor Nathanael Arnold noted that it will likely be worth merchants’ time and effort to allow NFC payments of this kind, as they present a  more secure alternative to debit and credit cards. Especially in the wake of the numerous security breaches that took place during last year’s holiday season, consumers are exercising more caution than ever this year.

In fact, a survey from found that 45 percent of the 865 respondents said they would “definitely or probably” not shop with retailers that have been the victims of data breaches. In addition, 16 percent said they “definitely would not return” to a hacked retailer.

As many breaches in the past involved the theft of payment card numbers via infiltrations of point-of-sales systems, NFC technologies could provide peace of mind for careful consumers. Arnold pointed out that despite some glitches with the rollout of the system – including Bank of America customers being double charged when using Apple Pay – the security potential could bring increased profits for retailers this holiday season.

“A few technical hiccups during the launch of new payment system[s] is to be expected, and they are fairly inconsequential compared to the peace of mind that Apple Pay’s security features could offer to consumers who are worried about having their card data revealed by hackers this holiday shopping season,” Arnold wrote.

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5 Tips for Aligning Your Marketing and SEO Strategies

Customers find their preferred vendors and service providers through a range of avenues, including brand-focused marketing and organic online searches. While some businesses treat these efforts as two separate entities, brand marketing and search engine optimization become much more impactful when they are aligned.

Web presence solutions provider Conductor found that paid searches result in 6 percent of consumer traffic, whereas 47 percent comes from organic searches. Through a combination of these efforts, both sides can be optimized. Ray Comstock of BusinessOnline, who specializes in aligning SEO and marketing, noted that when these aspects are treated separately, businesses are missing out on considerable opportunities.

“Our goal for any campaign is to better align as many marketing channels as possible with SEO best practices in order to better leverage all of these marketing activities from an organic search perspective,” Comstock wrote in a post for Search Engine Watch.

Here are a few best practices for coordinating marketing and SEO strategies:

  1. The use of regular and long-tail keywords

    Using similar keywords and key phrases within both SEO and marketing content presents a unified message across platforms and better aligns these efforts. When choosing these words and phrases, decision-makers should consider what their target audience submits to search engines and what points will lead them to the brand. While singular keywords are important, Synecore contributor Kevin Page recommended focusing on long-tail phrases, as these constitute as much as 70 percent of all search terms. Page also advised utilizing these items strategically, and not stuffing keywords and phrases where they don’t organically fit or belong.

    “You should determine your long-tail keywords in the same way as you choose your regular keywords and include them within the text of your content, ALT text, meta descriptions [and] subheads,” Page wrote. “Best of all, develop content around long-tail keywords that aligns with your products or services. This sets up your company to become a solution to your prospects’ problems.”

  2. Leverage internal links

    Organizations can take their keywords and phrases a step further by utilizing internal links to the company’s top landing pages.

    “Internal links are hyperlinks that send users to another page on your website or blog to ensure visitors stay longer on your site, while exposing them to more relevant and interesting content your company has created,” Page noted.

    Links can be included wherever keywords and long-tail phrases are used, including within digital marketing campaigns, blog posts, news releases and other business-focused content. As with keywords, internal links should not be overused. Too many key phrases and links can appear spammy and over-promotional.

  3. Social media SEO and marketing

    Comstock also advised leveraging social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and a company blog for both SEO and marketing purposes. This platform can help “extend messaging, promote content, and engage our target audience” through thought leadership that includes a focused, keyword-centered theme. To take this to the next step, a brand can utilize its social media page to support and encourage readership of its digital content. For instance, if an enterprise leader writes a particularly thoughtful and engaging blog post that includes strategic keywords, the business can promote and link to the post on its Facebook page. This will lead existing and potential customers through the business’s different channels, from its social media page to its blog and eventually to its landing pages.

  4. Internal training and communication

    In order to underscore these efforts, Comstock recommended including this focus within the firm’s internal communications to ensure everyone is on the same page. Furthermore, specific training on SEO and marketing can help build a unified team and empower all employees to contribute to the strategy.

    Comstock suggested training key staff members in keyword research and usage, web page and public relations optimization, social media and search engine optimization best practices, as well as internal linking strategies.

    “By demystifying SEO across various groups within the company, we are able to align all of the groups against the goals and priorities of the SEO campaign,” Comstock wrote.

  5. Maintain a focus on end-user needs

    Within this approach, company leaders should ensure that there is always a prime focus on providing for end-user needs, recommended Search Engine Land contributor Jim Yu. By using these demands to frame and govern both marketing and SEO strategies, the organization can be sure it is creating and offering content that matters to its customers.

    “Optimizing content for search … has a massive impact on the value of your content while, at the same time, increasing productivity and efficiency of the SEO and content teams,” Yu wrote. “This is in addition to the most important wins: greater outcomes for your business and a better experience for your visitors.”

With these strategies in mind, your company can present a coherent message. Your SEO and marketing will sing in harmony.

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