Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How to Improve Your SEO and Accessibility with Alt Attributes

You took the time to find that perfect image for your website’s homepage or a blog post. You feel that image says everything you want to say about your business or blog. The last thing you would want is for it to be invisible. If you neglect the alt attribute of that image, it may very well be invisible from a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and accessibility standpoint.

If you want to ensure that your page is SEO and accessibility friendly, this post is a must-read for you. If you use alt attributes on your site, but want to improve how they are written, this post is for you too. If you just can’t get enough alt attributes in your life, well, you’re in luck as well!

What are Alt Attributes?

Alt attributes, also referred to as alt tags or alt text, are an essential element for an effective online presence. They are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Alt attributes strengthen your visibility to search engine spiders and improve the accessibility of your website for people who are visually-impaired. By neglecting to add alt attributes to your images, you keep those images, and your page, invisible. They are essential for these three reasons:

  • Adding alt attributes to photos is first a principle of web accessibility. Visually impaired users need to know what the picture is showing. A screen reader will read an alt attribute, describing the image, and provide a better understand of an on-page image.
  • If an image can’t load, an alt attribute will be displayed in place of an image.
  • Alt attributes provide better image context and descriptions to search engine crawlers, helping them to index an image properly and improving your SEO.

Writing Alt Attributes

Now that we have a better idea of the importance of alt attributes, it is important to know how to write them. So if you were to create an alt attribute for this image:
pug dog wearing birthday hat looking up
The alt text could say: pug dog. That describes the picture on a basic level, but does not give the full picture. A better alt text would say: pug dog wearing birthday hat looking up. Why does that work better? Well here are 6 tips to keep in mind when creating alt attributes that are SEO and accessibility friendly:

Keep it Simple

Google does not like long descriptions of images (see keyword stuffing below) and neither do screen readers. The most popular screen readers cut off alt attributes at around 125 characters, so it’s advisable to keep it to that character count or less.

Be Descriptive and Concise

Not only should the alt attributes be short, it should be to the point. Alt attributes are designed to provide text explanations of images for users who are unable to see them. Be clean in your description, while trying to say it in as few words as possible.

Location, Location, Location

Placing images with alt attributes near relevant text will help create a logical experience for non-visual users. For example, if I was to include the picture of the birthday-celebrating pug above, it should be placed near text about a doggy-themed birthdays.

Keywords are Key

Remember when I told you that there is an SEO component to alt attributes? Well, keywords are key for SEO. Alt attributes are an opportunity to signal to search engines that your page is highly relevant to a particular search query. It’s a great strategy to use your site’s keywords in order to help your images rank.

Keyword Stuffing

Like all things, keywords are great in moderation. Be careful to not misuse your keywords as it could end up hurting your SEO instead of helping it. Google does not like it when you stuff the alt attributes with keywords. In our pug wearing a birthday hat example above, you would want to avoid this alt attribute:

pug dog breed puppies doggies birthday party hat red white pup puppies woof

First, this does not accurately tell a screen reader what the picture is. Imagine having to make sense of a picture with that description!

Secondly, filling alt attributes with keywords results in a negative user experience, and may cause your site to be perceived as spam.

Don’t Neglect Form Buttons

What is a form button? Form elements are different types of input elements, like text fields, checkboxes, submit buttons.

For example:

shopping cart

This is an example of a shopping cart or add to cart form button. If a form on your website uses an image give it an alt attribute. Image buttons should have an alt attribute that describes the function of the button, for example, this icon could have an alt attribute of shopping cart.

You are now ready to write your alt attributes for all the images on your site. Every time a new image is added, be sure to write the alt attribute. Remember to go back to older images and ensure that they have alt attributes as well. This simple step will give you a more accessible website that is also SEO friendly, creating a more positive user experience!

If you are more of a visual user, here is a tutorial from Google about writing alt attributes.

How to Improve Your SEO and Accessibility with Alt Attributes
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Connecting the words – Content Marketing & Keyword Optimization

An Infographic for all us visual learners.

Content Marketing is gaining in popularity and those that once said, “I don’t have time”, are now weighing the time commitment against the benefits.  All for good reason, Content Marketing works, but you need to start with an organized foundation.  This brings us back to the overly discussed and often misunderstood, Search Engine Optimization, more specifically, keyword optimization.

Before you spread your valuable content all over the internet, understand that Google Search’s sole focus is to bring the best possible results to its users.  Google doesn’t comprehend your content, it simply connects the words, and all words are not created equal. If a searcher is looking for cereal, Google will bring back results that contain the word cereal, not oatmeal, cheerios, formula or Kellog’s, just cereal.

When planning and preparing your content, know your keywords and work to provide Google with a clear and concise path to your website’s content, blogs, images, videos, etc.

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

Connecting the words – Content Marketing & Keyword Optimization
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Small Businesses – Do Not Start an Externally Hosted Blog

Warning: If you have a blog address similar to blogname.blogspot.com, blogname.wordpress.com or other, you may not want to read this. This also applies to anyone that has pointed a custom domain at these services.

Small businesses usually use blogs for three reasons: gaining attention, adding keywords for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and as a platform for Content Marketing.  The hope is to grow your business using these great online tools and it’s true, you should start a blog, just not an externally hosted one.

There are significant roadblocks in your path to SEO and Content Marketing success when using externally hosted blogs. These limitations so badly injure your efforts that those who have implemented different platforms to correct these problems report significant and sometimes immediate jumps in website traffic.

Here are the main problems.

Growth 

External blogs are not designed to grow with your business. All your hard work to create valuable content to build a tiny space online that is all yours and that garners you attention is limited. Your business will grow and one day you will find yourself needing a full website. A blog is not a website and it is very frustrating to try and fit your business into the limited space allocated by these external blog platforms. This is especially true if you are trying to implement Content Marketing strategies.

Purchasing your own domain name and hosting your own blog is not difficult or expensive. This choice will relieve much frustration later when your business is ready to expand online.

Flexibility

External blog platforms are often completely free and do offer some great features but there is no compromising when it comes to moving them in with you. As your business grows and you see value in creating your own website, you’ll want your content-filled blog to join forces with that new website. Since 2010 Blogger/BlogSpot and WordPress Blog removed the ability to truly do this for security reasons. This means, all that hard work and valuable content you created, never gets to do the SEO job it was really intended to do. Your blog content will never help to show Google a clear path to your website, because it will never actually be on your website.

A self-hosted blog can move freely and your growing business needs this type of flexibility.

If you are a small business with an externally hosted blog, it’s not the end of the world. The process of migrating all your content to a self-hosted blog platform is fairly straightforward. However, it’s definitely worth having someone that knows what they’re doing assist you to ensure everything is done properly to maintain your SEO rankings.

So, what’s the best way for a small business to start a blog? Here’s what we recommend:

  • Purchase a domain name.
  • Purchase hosting.
  • Install the self-hosted version of WordPress (Free) or other content management system.
  • Pick a free theme.
  • Start blogging!

Later, if your business is as successful as we hope it is, you’ll be laughing at how easy it is to expand online.

 

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

Small Businesses – Do Not Start an Externally Hosted Blog
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SEO How to make it into the top 10 and stay there!

SEO-How-to-make-it-into-the-top-10-130109

Follow these great tips to improve your website’s search engine rankings. The key is time. You cannot expect instant results. Stick to it, don’t give up and as your search rankings improve, adjust your SEO strategy appropriately. You will need just as strong a strategy in the beginning as you will to maintain your dominance in the number one position later.

Have a professional website developer with SEO experience build your website.

There are right ways and wrong ways to build websites. Having your website built by a reputable and knowledgeable developer can mean the difference between an effective sales tool and a lost phone book listing. It’s important to have the basics of SEO built into your site.

The front-end of websites are programmed in a language called HTML. Search engines can read HTML. Experienced developers will know that there should be additional HTML tags written to tell search engines important information.

 

Content, content, content!

Good, informative and relevant content is the most important factor of SEO. Search engines work hard at finding the best results for their users. They fundamentally do this by matching their users’ search phrases with a website’s content – word for word.

To create the best possible content for SEO, first think of what your potential clients will be searching for on the Internet. Keywords are the words and phrases that your potential customer types into their search engine. You must think like your customers and understand the terminology that they may use when looking for your products or services. Google Adwords KeyWord Suggestion Tool is a free online tool that can be very beneficial in this process. When determining your best keywords and phrases, look for the ones with the highest searches per month and the lowest competition.

Create a list of these keywords and phrases. Now, be sure that the content in your website contains these words multiple times. While rewriting and beefing up your website’s content to include these words and phrases, make sure that your website is still readable and that all content is relevant!

Be warned, Google will penalize you if you hide words or overload your content with keywords to the point that your website is not easily readable. This may be a fast way to reach the top, but it’s also a fast way to hit the bottom once Google catches you. Use your keywords as naturally as possible.

 

Use and placement of keyword optimized content.

Search engines weigh specific content more highly than general website body content. Your page address, page titles, page descriptions, headings, topmost content, bottommost content and bolded text are given more dominance than other content. It’s very important to include your keywords and phrases in these locations.

Think of it like this: you should give search engines a good road map to each of your website’s pages. Each page address should properly describe the page. Then, to not confuse search engines; your page title, page description, headings and content should all reasonably match. In other words, the same page’s keywords should be present in all locations.

 

Images & Videos

Search engines don’t have eyes. They rely completely on words to describe what they’re looking at. Make sure to properly name your images and image tags to best describe them to search engines. Try to include your keywords to help optimize your site.

Videos have become very popular over the past few years. Search engines have noticed this trend and now give them more weight when providing search results. Including relevant videos on your website is currently a good SEO strategy.

Make sure to add a title rich with keywords to your video and add a description that clearly illustrates what the video is about. If posting on other sites such as YouTube or Vimeo include your website link within the description.

 

Fresh Content

Search engines know when you’ve last updated your content. They give more weight to websites that have fresh content than those with old, stale content. Search engines record the frequency of your updates. If your website does not get updated often, search engines will crawl your website less frequently. This gives opportunity to your competition to surpass you in the rankings.

To stay a step ahead of your competitors, create a way to add fresh content to your website on an ongoing basis. Consider adding a blog, news feed, article section, image gallery or question forum.

 

Page Rank

Every website is given a Page Rank between 0 and 10, it could be described as a reputability rating. It is almost impossible to achieve a top rating of 10. Facebook is currently rated a 9, cbc.ca an 8, YouTube a 9, google.com a 9, and Oprah.com a 7. There is a mathematical algorithm that determines a website’s Page Rank. The equation measures reputable links. A page that is linked to by many pages with a high Page Rank is given a high Page Rank itself.

Google will give more weight to a website that has a slightly higher Page Rank compared to the same site with a lesser Page Rank. Improving your Page Rank will in turn improve your search rank. Small businesses should be proud of achieving a Page Rank of 3 or higher.

 

Links

Linking to other sites has very little importance, but when reputable and relevant websites link to your site, it tells search engines that the information your website contains is important and valid.

For example, if you run a dog grooming business and a well ranked website about caring for your pets links to your website in an article about best grooming practices, the information on your website has just been validated. Search engines will rank your site higher. If a website about home renovations links to the dog grooming website, search engines will not see proper relevance in the content and the link will hold little weight.

Try writing articles about your business offerings and send them out to relevant websites requesting that they publish or share your articles. Write press releases when new and exciting things happen within your business and share them with local media. Come up with creative ways to make others in similar and complimentary industries want to link to your website.

 

Social Media & Sharing

Recently Google admitted that their search algorithm includes some measurement of social media sharing. It’s now important to include social media in your SEO strategy.

Social media has the power to quickly make a video, image or piece of information go viral. When a link to your website is shared on a social media site, it is now given weight. If the person sharing it is also considered to have ‘authority’, search engines will consider the share more important. A person with ‘authority’ is someone who has many followers and consistently has others sharing the information they post. Watch how one share can turn into hundreds of shares!

Make sure to link to your social media sites from your website. It tells search engines to connect the activity on your social media sites with your stored website information. If you have relevant information shared by users with authority, it will positively impact your search rankings.

 

Interaction

Make sure your website has enough interesting and helpful information to maintain a user’s attention for a lengthy period. The longer a user stays on your website and visits multiple pages, the more relevant search engines consider your information.

Adding interactive tools and posting articles to your site may help to keep visitors interested for longer. An interactive tool could be a quote generator, unit convertor, mortgage rate generator, language translator, etc. Think about what would be most beneficial to your clients.

The more interactions a user has with your site by clicking to a new page, drawing information from a database or answering a survey, the higher search engines will likely rank your site.

 

All that said – and there’s no arguing it – the most important thing to take from this list is CONTENT! Add fresh, relevant and keyword optimized content to your website on an ongoing basis and be patient! Your site will slowly but steadily move up in the rankings.

 

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

SEO How to make it into the top 10 and stay there!
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What is Search Engine Optimization? and why is it important to my business?

SEO-Help-Sheet

Search Engine Optimization is the process of affecting the online visibility of your website in a search engine’s (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) natural, un-paid or organic results. The higher ranked and the more frequently your site is listed in search results, the more visitors your website will likely receive from search engine users.

There are a number of factors that effect a website’s visibility and likability by search engines. It takes a long-term commitment by businesses to improve and maintain their rank and placement in search results.

A good SEO strategy can become more important than your best salesman. Search engine users trust their search engines to provide the most appropriate, reputable and popular results.

If your business manages to place within the top results for certain search phrases, you could see an increase in website visitors. Providing your business’ website is captivating and answers the needs of the visitor, you could see an increase in sales from your SEO efforts.

How does it all work?

A simple explanation is that search engines ‘crawl’ the Internet to build their search databases. Within a certain time frame, they will cover the entire Internet and start over again. Each search engine uses a unique equation to measure websites. To optimise your website, you should concentrate on optimizing each individual component that search engines use in their equation. For example, Google recently added a measurement of a website’s social media use to their equation. Working on expanding your website’s social media reach now has an additional benefit.

What can I do to improve my SEO?

There are a number of things you can do to improve your business’ search engine ranking. Take a look at our ‘How to make it into the top 10!’ article.

 

Collaborative Haus Marketing is a full-service marketing company in Ontario serving Midland, Penetanguishene, Barrie, Orillia, Parry Sound, Toronto, and surrounding areas. We’re a group of committed, honest, creative and knowledgeable professionals determined to build solutions that help your business succeed. We believe small, medium and big businesses deserve the same caliber of professionalism, quality of service and exceptional results.
Contact us today! Our first meeting is always free!

What is Search Engine Optimization? and why is it important to my business?
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