All Posts By

Scott Gombar

First Steps to SEO - Selecting a Domain Name

First Steps to a Successful SEO Plan – Purchasing a Domain Name

By | Organic Search, SEO | No Comments

First Steps to a Successful SEO Plan – Purchasing a Domain Name

I’ve decided to start a series on First Steps to a Successful SEO Plan for SEO DIYers.  This series is based on my On-Page SEO checklist so if you have the checklist then you will see the direction this series of blog posts will take.  You can download this SEO checklist for free by going over to my home page.

As with any well-executed plan you have to…well….plan.  The early strategies of SEO include trying to determine what keywords are relevant to your website and business.

Finding the best keywords are important early on because you will use this to determine what domain to purchase for your website.  I always recommend a business chooses one of two methods for deciding on a domain to use.

You can choose to go the branding route (the name of the business or your name) or you can choose to use a domain that reflects relevant keywords.  I chose to go with branding over relevant keywords however I purchased some relevant keyword domain names along the way.

Don’t be fooled by so called SEO Experts that tell you not to focus on keywords.  While the method of focusing on keywords has changed over the last few years you still need to know how potential clients will find your business.  We’ll get into all the details you have to use to find your relevant keywords in a later blog post but for now, let’s discuss how to determine the best keywords for your business website.

How Do You Determine Relevant Keywords?

There are numerous tools available on the internet to do keyword research. We’re going to start with the Google Keyword Planner.  To use the Google Keyword Planner you will need to create an AdWords account but don’t worry, you don’t actually have to run any ads.

For the purpose of this blog post, I am going to use a baker that specializes in cupcakes and has a food truck.  There are a few ways to research relevant keywords.

  1. Start with a keyword in mind. If you have an idea of how people are searching for your type of business use this to see what Google comes up with.  In the case of a bakery, I would also set the location to your local geography, unless you also deliver to other places.   You can also conduct a survey using Google Surveys or Survey Monkey.  Market Research is always a good idea when determining things like how will people find your product or service.

Keyword Planner for Keyword ResearchAs you can see from my results for keyword “cupcakes” in Connecticut there are 2400 searches for “cupcakes” per month in Connecticut.  This is based on a 12-month average.  You will also note that Google gives you other related keyword terms and their search volume.

Now using “cupcakes” for your keyword is going to be very challenging so you will have to research competitors to see what you will be up against.  It’s best to try to find something a little more specific like “Gourmet Cupcakes in CT”.

Using the keyword planner you will see that this only yields 10 searches per month in Connecticut.  Let’s remove the “in CT”.  Google says there are 40 searches per month for “Gourmet Cupcakes” within Connecticut.

At this point, you still have a lot more research to do but I want to point out that a quick domain search on GoDaddy reveals that gourmetcupcakes.com is not available but gourmetcupcakes.net is.  You’re might think that you would rather have the .com or that you can’t compete with the .com but a little more research reveals that gourmetcupcakes.com is not being used.  That means there is no competition when it comes to using “Gourmet Cupcakes” as a Top Level Domain (TLD).

Back to our research

Alright, so we have determined that the keyword “Cupcakes” is a good option as far as search volume but likely has a lot of competition.  We have also determined that “Gourmet Cupcakes” has far less search volume and less competition.

  1. What’s the Trend? Now go to Google.com/Trends and plug in the keywords we already researched in the Google Keyword Planner.

We’ll start with “cupcakes”.  Change the geography to the United States and try different time frames.  Using 5 years reveals the number of searches for cupcakes has steadily declined over the last 5 years.

Scrolling down further will show you how the searches break down by the state.  You will notice that Connecticut is number 9.

Scroll down even more and you will see related searches.  This is where you may find a keyword that works better than just cupcakes.  “Cupcakes Near Me” is listed as a breakout.  Clicking on this query reveals that this keyword phrase has rapidly grown over the last few months.

Google Trends“Cupcakes Near Me” doesn’t really make a great business name but it is an option.  The .com was already purchased but is not in use.  Cupcakesnearme.net is a premium domain and GoDaddy is listing it at $19,500 so this is probably not an option for most.  Cupcakesnear.me is available and at normal domain prices (as of this writing).

“Gourmet Cupcakes” has no search volume shown on Google Trends so this will likely not be an option.  Let’s continue to focus on “cupcakes”.

  1. There is Competition. Using the Google Keyword Planner we can also check to see what your competition is using for keywords on their site.  Additionally, you can use Ahrefs, Spyfu or SEMRush to check on your competition.  You can learn where they rank for specific keywords, backlinks and more.   Each of these tools allows you to use them on a limited basis or try it out before you commit so figure out which is the best for your needs.

One of the features of all these tools is the ability to “spy” on competition or similar sites to see what they are using for keywords, the value of those keywords and search frequency.

Using Spyfu (free option) I put in the Sugar Bakery’s website.  I can now see that they are not doing and advertising on Google 5 of their top keywords.  Of the 5 keywords only one relates to cupcakes and that’s flower cupcake.  I can now see what the suggested bid price for this keyword, their ranking for it and the search volume for it.  This information helps me to determine if this is a good domain name option.

There are two other things to check regarding whether or not Flower Cupcake is a good option beyond the information above.  First is it available, and second is it relevant to what your cupcake shop is about.

A quick search reveals the .net is available.  Even though the .com is not available it is not being used therefore your SEO will be a little easier.

  1. Spyfu searchPurchase Your Domain.   Enough hemming and hawing.  You’ve done the research.  It’s time to make a purchase.  I referenced GoDaddy a few times but there are other reputable domain sellers.  Google, Network Solutions, and Register to name a few.  You don’t have to necessarily buy from GoDaddy.

It’s really a combination of determining the best keyword for your business site and what works best with your branding plans.  This post should not be used in any part to make a branding decision.  It should be used to ensure you are purchasing a domain that is going to work best for your business.

When you purchase your domain you should also purchase for multiple years.  It’s a small factor but Google does look at the length of registration and tends to favor registrations of one year a lot less than multiple years.  You can usually get a discount for purchasing for multiple years as well.

One thing I should mention here that has nothing to do with SEO.  Do not allow a web designer, SEO or anyone else to purchase a domain or hosting under an account that is not yours.  I have seen all too often a business lose their web site and domain because they let the person building the site purchase everything under their own account.  If you let someone else buy the domain and hosting on an account that is not yours, you risk losing all of it.

Based solely on this research I would have gone with cupcakesnear.me.  You may decide to use more of a branded name and that is fine.  I will say this much if you purchase a branded name like I did you should rank number one on Google for that name.  If you search Scott Gombar on any of the major search engines you see that my site is number one and that other properties that I control are on the first page of Google.  This is good SEO.

I should also mention using Google Alerts will allow you to continue to monitor your selected keyword(s) for ideas and opportunities.  This is also part of brand monitoring for some companies.

Free SEO Checklist

Make sure you come back for the next step in my 10 part series First Steps to a Successful SEO Plan.  Sign up for the newsletter to stay in touch.

Episode 17 | The Keyword Show

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Podcast, Search, SEO | No Comments

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 17 | The Keyword Show

I’ve changed the name of the show to SEO Hackerz but this is Episode 17 and on this episode, we talked about how to find the right keywords and how to best utilize those keywords.

We also analyzed a website today and discussed how the site owner could benefit from the very topic we discussed. This episode is the perfect episode for anyone just getting into a business and that has not purchased a domain name yet.

We discussed the tools that you can use to find the best keyword phrases (long tail keywords).  This list is also available on my on-page SEO checklist.  The list includes:

  • Google Keyword Planner
  • Moz Keyword Explorer
  • SEMRush
  • Spyfu
  • Google Trends
  • Google Alerts
  • Word Tracker

Once you’ve determined the best keywords to use it’s time to purchase a domain.  With the numerous TLD domain extensions, it is easier now to get an exact match keyword domain name.

Oops What is SEO

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Organic Search, Search, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

What is SEO and How Can You Dominate SEO in 2017?

what is seoOne of the questions I am asked most often when I tell people what I do is what is SEO?  I get asked this question so often that I have found myself just defining it as part of my answer, something like I optimize websites to increase traffic and revenue for businesses.  I decided it was time to explain exactly what SEO is and what you need to know about SEO in 2017.

What is SEO?

The Definition of SEO

SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization.  The short definition of SEO is the optimization of a website or landing page to make it easier for people searching the internet to find it.  SEO is not a new tactic or technique.  In fact, it’s been around for well over a decade.  If you’ve been in marketing at all then you have likely heard of SEO (shockingly I have spoken to marketers who have no idea what SEO is).

SEO is an organic process.  That means if you are handling your own SEO you are not paying to rank your website on any of the search engines.  You are doing this without advertising and paying to improve ranking.

SEO requires a lot of knowledge on how the major search engines work and the changes they make to their algorithms.  Not keeping up on changes can be detrimental to your SEO plan, and ultimately your business.  This is why SEO experts like me are able to charge for this service.

You can fix your own leaky faucet and you might get it right but you might also miss something and create a bigger problem later.  You might also break something else in the process and create an enormous problem.  SEO works the same way.  Doing SEO wrong can set you back; in some cases years.

With the above definition, I will tell you that SEO has evolved dramatically, and continues to evolve daily (literally).  One of the main reasons that SEO has evolved so dramatically is the evolution of how people search.  We don’t search the internet the same way we did even a year ago.  Let me give you a few examples of what I mean:

  • Today if we’re looking for a product we’re more likely to take to Amazon or eBay than we are Google
  • With the influx of voice recognition software and hardware (Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google) it’s not uncommon to pick up a phone and use the voice search or to use a standalone Bluetooth speaker with voice recognition to get an answer
  • People routinely use YouTube (the second most popular search engine in the world) to research how to do something or get a product review. People would rather watch a video than reading.  They also want to be educated on a product or service before making a purchase
  • Often someone using Google to search will revise their search 3-5 times to find what they’re looking for. This has led to the development of machine learning (AI) to determine a searcher’s intent rather than what they type in (or speak).  Google’s AI is called Rankbrain.

How Do I Dominate My Own SEO?

diy seo memeFirst, let me start by saying you need to know a few things to get started.  If you are going down the DIY SEO road then you are likely using a CMS like WordPress, or a website builder like Wix.  If you choose WordPress I would highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin to help you manage SEO.  The website builders have some SEO components built into them but they can be limiting.

You can download my free On-Page SEO checklist to help you with the first part of SEO.  Review this document and implement all the action steps listed and you will be off to a great start.

Ultimately the way to dominate SEO is by thinking of your audience first, not Google or Bing.  Develop and write content for your audience.  If you sell cars then explain the advantages of a certain car in terms your audience will understand.  If you are a painter then develop content around deciding what type of paint you should use or what colors work best in different scenarios.

If you’re an SEO expert then develop content that helps business owners understand why SEO is so critical to a business’ success and how to determine if the SEO is done properly on their site.

Content comes in many forms.  Develop content in video, photos, infographics, written, and audio.  This ensures you are appealing to different types of leaning.  By doing this you will likely increase engagement which has become an important part of what Google looks at in determining ranking factors in 2017.

Content that your audience wants is one of the most critical pieces of any successful SEO plan.  Once the content is developed you can worry about the other more technical items and SEO tricks & hacks.

Here are some SEO hacks & tricks that have worked well for me recently:

  • Repurposing & remarketing content. Take an older blog post, update it and share it across social media
  • Sharing a blog post that Google has indexed on your site to other blogging platforms
  • When developing content include different forms of content (video, audio, images). Video especially will increase engagement
  • Share, Share, Share. There are tons of ways to share your content.  Do it.
  • Include Power Words in Your Title and Content
  • Don’t develop content around a singular keyword phrase. Use variations
  • Use Google Search Console to determine keyword analytics and build on positive results

one does not simply type in one search queryThat should be enough to get you started.  Things are changing in 2017.  If your SEO is not changing with it then you will suffer.  Some things to look out for in 2017 in my educated opinion:

  • Google will continue to put more weight into engagement analytics like bounce rate, time on page, and shares.
  • Google will penalize “fake” traffic. This means if you are somehow manipulating clicks to your site you will be penalized.  One of the more common methods of doing this is to encourage people to search for something and click on your site.
  • Businesses will place more value on SEO, and good SEOs will become harder to find. Larger businesses will in-house SEO.
  • Video will continue to drive SEO results and become more important to your SEO success.

I have a few more theories but we will hold on to those for a later blog post.

The question is What is SEO.  We reviewed what SEO is and how to dominate it in 2017.  The truth is SEO takes a lot of time, testing, effort, monitoring and work, and some luck.  If you are not prepared for the long-term commitment it’s best to leave it to an SEO expert.  In short, SEO is HARD WORK.

Feel free to join me on SEO Hackerz (formerly the SEO Tear Down).  I broadcast live once a week and upload every episode to YouTube, Facebook, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and my site.  Lots of SEO information and tactics to be had on this podcast, and I keep them 15-20 minutes.  See you there.

SEO is for the people

 

 

 

 

Episode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Local Search, Local SEO, Organic Search, Podcast, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 16 | Local SEO Domination – Crush Your Local Competition

There’s a little thing called Google Maps. You see it when you search for businesses. It falls between the ads and the organic results. How can you dominate this listing and other spots on Google, as well as Bing?

Set up your local listing on Google by going to google.com/mybusiness and on bing by going to bing.com/places.

We also talked about setting up a Facebook Page, LinkedIn Company Page, Yelp and other local directories like YP and Mapquest.

We also analyzed another website today. The SEO was already done for the site by another SEO provider. They did not do the job. Watch and Learn

Episode 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Link Building, Local Search, Local SEO, Podcast, Search, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 15 Podcasting for SEO Dominance

In previous episodes I talked about ways of getting backlinks. One of those ways is appearing on podcasts as a guest.

We have also talked about developing content in the past. Creating your own podcast and adding it to your website is a great way to add content to your site.

I talk about both of these on this episode of The SEO Tear Down.

Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.  Become the recognized expert in your industry and drive more traffic to your site and more revenue to your business.  It’s a win/win.Learn a tactic that will develop your personal brand while improving your SEO efforts.

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of Google

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Google+, Link Building, Local Search, Local SEO, Organic Search, Penguin, Podcast, Rankbrain, Search, SEO | No Comments

Episode 14 | Dominate the First Page of GoogleSEO Tear Down

This week I talked about dominating the first page of Google.  Have you ever googled something and discovered a number of listings back to the same site?  That’s Google dominance but how does a website owner dominate Google?

There are 3 areas of opportunity when it comes to the first page of Google.  At the very top is Google AdWords.  There are 4 spots there.  Capture one of those spots through advertising and you are on your way.  You have to create relevant, high quality ads to make this happen.

Second is Google Maps.  Set up your business on Google.com/mybusiness (I talked about this in a previous episode) and get reviews.  Show up in the 3 pack and you have accomplished step 2 of Google Dominance.

Finally you have the organic results.  The difference for organic results is you have an opportunity to rank more than once in the top 10.  I used my own results to make a case.  My website is first followed by LinkedIn, Facebook, Reciproty, Business 2 Community, Slideshare and other sites.  That means not only does my website rank on the first page but my social profiles do as well.  You can also have multiple pages on your site show up on the first page.

That’s Google Dominance!

We also analyzed a website for it’s SEO. This was our first episode using Twitter Live along with Huzza and Facebook Live.  Someone on Twitter asked that we analyze a chiropractic site live and of course I obliged.  Have a listen to see what opportunities exist for the site.

Episode 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Link Building, Podcast, Search, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

SEO Tear DownEpisode 13 | Link Building Secrets for SEO Domination

Link Building is one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. Many business owners are discouraged from doing it and many SEOs avoid it or take the cheap way out.

I talk about Link Building and some organic ways to get high-quality links back to your site, some of them are not so hard.

We talked about the following for link building and SEO:

  • Adding a link to ted.com (Ted Talks)
  • Adding profiles to blogging sites like Medium & Blogger.
    • We also talked about a strategy of sharing your original blog content mentioned in an earlier episode.
  • Adding profiles to industry related sites
  • Creating social media profiles
  • Guest blogging
  • Commenting on relevant, high-quality sites
  • Brief discussion of Penguin 4.0

Have a listen and if you want to feature your website on the next episode of the SEO Tear down sign up today.

 

Episode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Google+, Local Search, Local SEO, Organic Search, Podcast, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

SEO Tear DownEpisode 12 | Optimize Your Business for the Google 3 Pack

How do you get your business in the Google 3 Pack, also known as Google Maps?  When you do manage to get your business listed how do you dominate the Google 3 Pack section of the Google Search Engine Results Page?

This week I talked about that very topic.  Adding real estate to the Google SERP by dominating the Google 3 Pack helps you dominate Google.  Here’s what you need to know to succeed on the Google 3 Pack.

First, the Google 3 Pack is managed by going to google.com/mybusiness.

Once you’ve created an account here are the items to ensure your success on Google Maps:

  • Thorough & Detailed Description including relevant long tail keywords
  • Profile Image, Logo and Cover Photo
  • Website URL
  • Phone Number
  • Email
  • Address
  • Hours of Operation
  • Have Clients Review Your Business
  • Connect to YouTube and Upload Videos

Ep 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Local Search, Organic Search, Podcast, Search, SEO, SEO Hack, YouTube | No Comments

SEO is for the peopleEp 11 | YouTube Optimization for SEO

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last few years you know that video has become a huge part of marketing and the internet in general.  Business owners are encouraged to create videos and upload them to YouTube as a means of marketing their businesses.  And so they do.  They have no idea what to do from there.

The most popular search engine for millennials, and the second most popular overall, is YouTube.  YouTube used correctly is a very powerful tool in your SEO strategy but how do you optimize your video for SEO?

That was the topic this week.  We quickly discussed some optimization opportunities for YouTube.

Your Channel

  • Get a custom URL
  • Add Cover Photo
  • Add link back to your website and social profiles
  • Add a thorough about section (did not discuss in video)

Your Videos

  • Include a descriptive title with a long tail keyword as the focus
  • Include a thorough description using long tail keyword variations in the description, and a link to your website
  • Include relevant tags.  Think of these as meta keywords for YouTube

Your Website

  • Embed the video on your website (blog post or page)
  • Include a description or transcription of the video
  • Optimize the post/page for On-Page SEO just like any other web page

There is certainly more you can do.  For example sharing the video is an important part of your SEO strategy.  Start with these steps and we will revisit at a later date.

Episode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

By | Advanced SEO Techniques, Local SEO, Organic Search, Podcast, Search, SEO, SEO Hack | No Comments

the SEO Tear Down with Scott GombarEpisode 10 Two SEO Hacks You Can Crush Your Competition With

I wrote a blog post about an SEO hack that you can use (ethically) to increase traffic by 95% (or in some cases 200-300%).  I discovered some other hidden benefits to this SEO hack so that was the focus of this weeks episode.  Then I remembered that I wanted to talk about another SEO hack that I have used successfully several times now.

The first SEO hack involved repurposing existing website blog.  Read the blog post here to learn more about what I did and what the results were.

The second SEO hack involved your domain purchase and keyword strategy.  Basically if you research your long tail keywords before domain purchase you can get a domain with exact match keywords.  I have successfully ranked #1 within a few days on all major search engines.  I launched a new site 6 days ago with the same strategy and so far I am number 15 on Google, and number 1 on Yahoo and Bing.

I also talked about Google separating their index into 2 indexes.  One for mobile and one for desktop.  What will that mean to your business and website.

Can I build SEO friendly websites on Wix?  You can but you don’t get access to everything you need to win the SEO battle.

 

Google Circle
Join my Circle on Google+

Plugin by Social Author Bio

Stay Up

Socialize With Us

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
INSTAGRAM
YouTube
Snapchat
Google+
Pinterest
RSS
Follow by Email