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Delton Childs

Smoke Shop Blogger at Head Shop Hero
Delton Childs smoke shop enthusiast and product reviewer. D loves talking with friends about new products and innovations in the smoke shop industry as well as hanging out with his schnauzer Einstein at the park. Be sure to give him a shout on your favorite social network.

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This weeks’ Online Marketing Monday Podcast is all about basic search engine optimization knowledge.  Basic SEO Knowledge is one of those things that doesn’t mean a lot of different things to different people, or at least it shouldn’t.   It’s should mean the same thing to all webmasters and website owners. To be honest, I just consider it to be basic TLC when it comes to your websites.   Your business online is just as important as your brick and mortar storefront, maybe even more so because much of the time that’s the first point of contact you have with potential customers.  We all know the old saying about first impressions, I won’t go there.

I know we tend to cover some pretty technical subjects but that’s because we’re not pulling any punches.  We don’t want to give you some kind of lame cotton candy tip that makes you feel good because you read it, we give you real actionable advice on ranking better, gaining more business & firmly establishing your brand identity.

 These Are The Keys To START Ranking Higher

Search engines don’t work in the way you might think they do.  In fact, we find most clients have some serious misconceptions about exactly what it is the google search engine does to decide if a site should be number #1 or barely existing at all.  To get a handle on the task at hand we’ve composed a short list of things you might want to do if you want to do some for some basic SEO:

  • 300 word recommended minimum for articles.
  • The keyword or keyword phrase should appear in the page title.
  • Meta Description needs to contain the target keyword or keyword  phrase.
  • The keyword or keyword phrase should appear in the first paragraph of the page copy.
  • Use the keyword or phrase in a sub-heading of the page.
  • Pay attention to the keyword density on your pages (more about that below).
  • The images on should contain alt tags with the keyword or phrase in them.
  • Add some outbound links

I’d be writing at least a 16 page informational pamphlet if I talked about all these things… I don’t write pamphlets… but I’ll cover a few.

Writing Body Copy For Your Website

Smoke shops and dispensaries are really lucky in the sense that the copy you write for your website can be so conversation and relaxed.  Most of the content writing I’ve done for smoke shops has been down-right enjoyable because it simply involves a little bit of  product research.  I’ll admit it can sometimes be challenging due to the poor quality of websites out there for smoke, vape, & Dispensaries but all and all, it’s kinda cool writing about some of the products.  Who doesn’t love smoke shop stuff!

Getting the word count for your articles and posts

You can get your word count at a glance inside WordPress. it’s at the bottom of the article creation interface while you type! Now that’s pretty sweet.

You may have read through that list up top and decided that this is way too much to tackle no your own, that’s smart.  The best websites are built by teams not individuals. But it gets even easier to complete the task, we use tools to help determine if these requirements are met.  No matter what type of website platform you’re on (We use WordPress), there is an extension that will help you gauge at a glance the entire list above.  Yes, it’s true.  To be honest, the wordpress content management system lets you know the exact word count of your article while you’re typing, which makes sense for content producers!

Do I pay religious attention to my wordcount?  No, I don’t.  I have a feeling when I’m typing whether I’m spitting enough content out or not but it can be a good way to judge at a glance whether you’re article is long enough to be considered a nice size article for the search engines to index.

Do I meet all the requirements listed above on every article? Nope. You don’t need to.  But it’s a good way to gauge the efficiency of your work rather than just guess or suppose that you did a good enough job.

Keyword Density is a controversial subject and no-one wants to give you a percentage, I don’t either.  Word on the street (for webmasters) is that they’re not even using it to calculate SERP (Search Engine Result Page) rankings any longer but it’s been such a touchstone in the SEO community for so long it’s roots can’t be ignored.  It’s much more likely that that metric is being factored into others, giving rise to a  whole new metric that is being used to calculate ranking.  Google revises their system regularly and you’ll see this type of change often and ranking change with it.

Here’s the skinny on Keyword Density.  Google Bots look at all the content on your page and gauge the amount a specific search terms appears in relation (a percentage) to all the other text on your page.  So if your page just contains the Keyword phrase over and over and over.  The search engines know and will discount you as a spam site!  Watch it.  Keep that density reasonable.

This is a video from a couple years back, The guy is Matt Cutts.  He’s big at Google to say the least & all good webmasters know exactly who he is.

One last thing.  Be careful about what words or keyword phrases you optimize for.  I’ve seen way to many business owners optimize their entire site for something no one is searching for.


Behind The Scenes Meta Descriptions & Image SEO Optimization

Elements Rolling Papers - Basic SEO Knowledge Example

If you hover over this image with your mouse just a second, without clicking, you’ll see the alternative text image attribute pop up. It should say “Elements Rolling Papers – Basic SEO Knowledge Example”.

You really should be filling the the “Alternative Text” or “alt” attributes on all of your images. You might ask yourself… ok.. what should I write. I’ve seem some webmasters go really general with this and write something like “product image”. That really doesn’t say much about what the image is of or about or what it’s trying to communicate.

Your SEO Image descriptions should be what the photo is really about or what it’s a photo of.  Not something generic like “product image”.  It’ll take awhile to fill in all those gaps in your website but at the end of the day you’ll have a more optimized site.

Oh, & one last thing about images… DO NOT be uploading 3MB files to your server.  This is a classic.  While data connections are good these days you want to have your site not only search engine optimized but optimized for mobile devices too. You’ve got to understand a few things that’s going on in the back end first.  When you upload an image it makes about 3 copies of it.  A thumbnail, typically 150x150px, a medium size image, typically about 300px in width and a large sized version, typically about 800px in width.  This is all in addition to saving the original file you uploaded.

You’ve got to consider, most of the sites I work on are at least about 1/2 mobile visitors on smartphones like HTC, iPHone etc.  So while your website is probably making optimized versions of the image to serve up just imagine if you uploaded an already optimized image and your CMS (Content Management System) is further optimizing those for you. That’s actually how it’s meant to work and what you should doing.  While you’re at it… you might want to just go ahead and watermark you product images too. For additional branding and so they don’t get scraped by another site.  Note: “Scraping” is what webmasters call stealing content from other sites, yes, google knows.  

What Have You Been Smoking

OK, OK, I know, I know, that example seems a little obscure and your mind might be screaming, “How the hell is sticking a little piece of text under my image where no one can see it going to help me rank better, this sounds so dumb!”.

It’s not just the text under the image.  It’s all the little pieces working in harmony.  Remember, it’s a little robot, not a person ranking your site.  In part, it’s all about making it so that little robot knows, or thinks it knows, what kind of information contained in your websites.  These robots use unrealistically complicated algorithms that weight factors together and against one another and the scales they use to determine how your site ranks are seriously kept in vaults as corporate secrets like the Original Coca-Cola Recipe.  It’s so the system can’t be exploited too.

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