Tag Archives: seotuners

How to Submit a Sitemap to Google – And Other Important Info

How to Submit a Sitemap to Google in 6 Steps

  1. Create a Google account if you don’t already have one
  2. Sign in to your Google Search Console account
  3. Select your website
  4. Select “Sitemaps”
  5. Delete any outdated or invalid sitemaps
  6. Add your updated sitemap and click SUBMIT

Yup, that’s it. Real easy.

But BEFORE you go hitting that SUBMIT button, there are some important things you should know about sitemaps that will help you ensnare those Google crawlers in your web(site) and get more organic traffic.

What is a sitemap?

So, you’ve already learned how to submit a sitemap to Google. Perhaps you should know what a sitemap actually is to understand how important they are to your technical SEO strategy.

A sitemap is simply a technical directory of all the important pages on your website that indicates to Google crawlers the relevancy and usefulness of certain portions of your business site.

Google’s bots use these directories to index your site. Search engine indexing essentially means an algorithm is collecting, analyzing, categorizing, and storing data from various websites to increase the speed and accuracy of information retrieval.

In other words, when you increase the crawlability of your website, you increase your organic traffic opportunities as well.

Google algorithms automatically crawl the web to discover relevant links; however, submitting your sitemap directly through Google Search Console greatly increases your website’s visibility to bots, allowing them to index, understand, and rank your website quicker.

Types of Sitemaps

While there are several sitemap formats, the two most common are XML and HTML.

Let’s compare:

What is an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap looks something like this:

codehttps://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/sitemaps/build-sitemap

This is just a very short snippet of what your XML sitemap would look like. To humans outside of programming, this might as well be a bunch of ones and zeros, but this is a Google crawl bot’s favorite reading material – they tend to be picky though, so be sure to read through to our “Sitemap Best Practices” section to find out the minimum standards your XML sitemap must meet.

If you haven’t already guessed, XML sitemaps are meant for search bots only. They also include meta-attributes, such as <lastmod> (as seen above) and <changefreq> to signal to bots how your URL changes.

Site updates tell Google’s search algorithms that your website is likely relevant and useful, which increases your ranking over time. Some dynamic content to include in your sitemap are customer testimonials and blog posts.

Overall, your XML sitemap should only include the most important web pages on your site and exclude more static pages, such as contact forms, and ones you don’t want to be crawled, such as seasonal pages.

What is an HTML sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is simply a list of URLs found on a dedicated webpage. The link to a sitemap is generally found at the very bottom of the main website pages, such as on our SeoTuners website:

website bottom bar

Here’s just a snippet of our HTML sitemap (as HTML sitemaps can be quite long):

screenshot of links

One thing you should notice is that we’ve grouped our most important content by topic. Our main categories are “pages” and “posts”. Under our “posts” category, there are subcategories, which include Advertising, Content, Ecommerce, Local, Marketing, Mobile, Penalty Updates, PPC [pay per click], SEO [search engine optimization], Social, and Web Design Posts.

You can visit our sitemap here to get a better feel for what to include on your HTML sitemap and how to organize it.

HTML sitemaps are used by Google bots but are also a convenient way for users to navigate your site by having all your most relevant pages on a single webpage.

Sitemap Best Practices

1) Make sure your sitemap meets these minimum standards:

  • BUTF-8 encoded
  • Compressed into .gz format
  • Is referenced in the robots.txt
  • Contains only canonical URLs with a 200 status code
  • Does not exceed 50,000 URLs or 50MB uncompressed (whichever comes first)

2) Include only the most important pages of your website:

How do you decide which pages are important?

  • Prioritize dynamic web pages over static pages. Dynamic pages are web pages such as blog posts, customer testimonials, and calendars. Static pages might include dedicated contact pages that don’t need to be a priority.
  • Categorize your content. Group like with like – and if a page is unrelated to your primary purpose, ditch it.
  • Exclude “noindex” URLs. These are pages that you wouldn’t want to be crawled or indexed to ensure they don’t show up on the results pages. Such pages might include internal search results, admin or login pages, thank you pages, custom post types, and author archives. These can cut into your crawl budget and divert bots from your site entirely.

3) Use multiple sitemaps as needed.

The sitemap file size limit is 50,000 URLs or 50MB, which might sound like a lot, but can actually be exceeded rather quickly for larger sites.

For example, e-commerce sites generally have many individual product pages along with their primary web pages. Ecommerce businesses can create separate sitemaps for their product pages, categories pages, and main website.

These individual sitemaps can then be organized into a sitemap index file that allows you to submit all your files at once. These sitemap index files direct Google crawlers to each section of your website through various sitemaps.

4) Create sitemaps for videos and images.

Google provides extensions that allow you to create a separate sitemap for videos and images embedded in your website. You can even include these video and image maps within existing sitemaps. They provide additional scaffolding for Google bots to crawl, providing more information to help bots better understand and rank your files for relevant search terms.

5) Fix any sitemap errors you find ASAP. (That’s it. Get them fixed or see your rankings drop.)

6) Submit your sitemap through Google Search Console.

As we previously stated, you don’t necessarily need to submit your sitemap directly to Google, but it is advantageous to do so. Submitting your sitemap to Google allows their bots to be more efficient in indexing, parsing, and understanding the relevance of your page for ranking.

7) Conduct a website audit to ensure it’s up to spec.

You should really do this before you even submit your sitemap to Google to make sure there are no broken links, missing images, faulty meta tags, etc. You should check your website’s site speed, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and meta descriptions. You can check out our SEO audit checklist for more details or use our free SEO audit tool to see if your landing page or blog posts are optimized for keywords.

8) Hire an expert.

The above steps might seem easy enough, but as you probably know by now, there’s much more to creating a sitemap than just logging into Google Search Console and hitting the SUBMIT button.

Don’t let your rankings suffer due to technicalities. Hire an SEO professional like SeoTuners. We offer innovative internet marketing solutions that will increase your online visibility and help you outrank your competitors. You can call for a free SEO consultation at (877) 736-1112 or drop us a line via our contact form.

title of blog and desk with computer

How to Optimize Your Video Content to Outrank Your Competitors

Video content is an excellent way to capture the increasingly shorter attention spans of a distracted and busy audience.

But before you spend time or money on creating videos, you need to consider what your long-term goals are. For example, do you want to build more links and garner more social shares, increase conversion rates, boost high-quality traffic to your site, or build up your authority and reputation?

Only after you clarify your intentions can you generate an efficient video search engine optimization (SEO) strategy that will actually help you accomplish your goals and outrank your competition.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • What video SEO is
  • Some video SEO best practices
  • Where you should host your video content

What is Video SEO?

It’s important to start thinking of YouTube not merely as a video streaming platform but also as a search engine in its own right. As a matter of fact, after Google, YouTube is the most widely used search engine. And even though Google owns YouTube, the search rules, relevant keywords, and search intent will differ – and your optimization strategies should reflect this.

Search intent on YouTube is more instructional than transactional. For example, someone might peruse Google for the perfect headscarf, but they’re going to turn to YouTube to search for ten ways to style that headscarf.

Video SEO on YouTube provides a unique opportunity for perpetual rankings through suggested “watch next” content if you can tap into certain niches.

You can do this by tailoring your strategy to the platform:

Best Practices for a Tight Video SEO Strategy

Choose or Make Attention-Grabbing - But Relevant - Thumbnails

Think of your video thumbnails as a book cover – it needs to be eye-catching and tell people what the book is about at a glance.

People make split-second decisions to click or scroll by based on these video thumbnails. While YouTube will auto-generate these thumbnails for you, you might end up with an irrelevant or less than flattering still.

You’re much better off choosing or creating your own. You can easily do this via YouTube Studio. Simply log in to the app using a g-mail account, then you can choose the video you want to create a thumbnail for and select from three stills or make your own.

Whichever thumbnail you choose, just remember that you want it to be relevant and professional in addition to interest-grabbing.

Elements to include in your thumbnail include:

  • Clearly stated topic
  • Timestamp for length
  • Eye-catching visuals

Create Relevant Title Tags

Don’t mislead your audience. Intentionally mislabeling your video just to garner clicks is a deception that will only hurt your rankings and your reputation in the long run. Once people realize your video isn’t what they were expecting, they’ll click right back to the result pages. Google and YouTube algorithms take notice, resulting in lower rankings.

To create relevant title tags, simply use a keyword research tool, such as Google’s free keyword planner. You’ll be able to find popular search terms and potentially generate new ideas based on this research.

Write Contextual Video Descriptions

A video description is like the meta description on Google SERPs. It needs to be short and sweet and include a few keywords. Google bots crawl these descriptions to determine how to categorize and rank your content based on search intent.

Things to avoid:

  • Keyword stuffing
  • Luring viewers in with false or misleading descriptions

Things to include:

  • A call-to-action
  • Links to additional content (e.g. “watch this playlist to learn more about x” or “watch my latest video x”)

Tag Your Videos

Tags are a way to help Google and YouTube catalog your videos so users can find you more easily. Video tags are a vital part of the video SEO trifecta: tags, title, and description.

Tagging is a way to ensure your video appears alongside similar and suggested content. Just as with thumbnails, you can use the YouTube Studio app to tag your videos. Just click on the sidebar menu on the right, select “content”, choose the desired video, and start tagging. You can use the app anywhere and across all device types.

Upload a Video Transcript

You won’t have to work very hard to produce great video transcripts if your recorded material is already well-researched, finely crafted, and includes relevant keywords.

Including a transcript supplies more material for Google to crawl, providing you with more opportunities to rank. Additionally, transcripts expand your reach by making your content more accessible to the hearing impaired.

Transcripts appear below your video in the comments and show up in your video’s closed captions. You can add timestamps to your transcripts to make it easier for viewers to navigate to the exact answers they need, which can greatly reduce bounce rate.

Fine Tune Your Strategy with Research

There are various free tools - and affordable experts when you’d rather someone else do it for you - at your disposal to help you create a video SEO strategy that gets results.

Google, for instance, has a free keyword research tool or planner that allows you to hone in on high-ranking keywords relevant to search intent. The tool will tell you how popular a search term or phrase is, how difficult it would be to rank for these terms and related search terms.

Because you’ll likely pull ideas from pre-existing content, this tool is especially useful in preventing keyword cannibalization, which happens when you have too many of the same or similar keywords across content mediums. This confuses search bots and may lead to pages you didn’t intend to highlight ranking higher than the ones you actually wanted to promote.

Another valuable tool is a site audit, which will review your video or website schema to ensure you have the proper HTML tags that allow Google search bots to crawl and catalog your content.

Lastly, you’ll want to monitor backlinks, as they are a crucial part of any SEO strategy, video, or on-page. Backlinks are similar to citations and are simply links from another website to yours. Backlinks are an indication that people find your content useful and relevant, which further establishes your page’s authority and trustworthiness. Backlink audits check for broken or bad links and links that can help you establish relationships.

Where to Post: Your Website or YouTube?

There are pros and cons to hosting your video on your business website and YouTube:

Hosting Your Video on YouTube:

The pros:

  • Already optimized for video
  • Second largest search engine
  • Suggested video features
  • SUBSCRIBE button makes it easier to gain followers
  • Built-in thumbnail and transcript tools
  • Potential to go viral

The cons:

  • Terms and conditions apply
  • YouTube can decide to pull your content if it violates subjective decency standards
  • Difficult to monetize content for your target audience

Hosting Your Video on Your Business Website

The pros:

  • More control over your content
  • No need to agree to another platform’s terms and conditions
  • You can choose if and how much you’ll charge for your content by setting up a paywall

The cons:

  • You might need to pay for more server space, as videos are often large files
  • YouTube is massively popular, so you’ll miss out on the platform’s traffic and incidental reach from “suggested next” recommendations
  • You won’t be able to take advantage of YouTube’s free editing and SEO elements, such as adding tags, transcripts, and thumbnails

The Bottom Line

Here’s all you really need to know:

  1. Video SEO is just as important as on-page SEO.
  2. Your video SEO should be unique and well-researched. It should differ from your on-page optimization strategy. Do not copy and paste!
  3. Use title tags, descriptions, and transcripts to boost your video’s crawlability.
  4. Track your progress.

To Save Time and Ensure Success, Hire an Expert

Video optimization isn’t necessarily difficult, but it can be time-consuming and has many moving parts to consider. If you find you’re going cross-eyed trying to optimize for video SEO, reach out to an expert instead. Our SEO professionals can help you supercharge your internet marketing – give SeoTuners a call today at (877) 736-1112 or fill out our online form to tell us more about how we can serve you!

ceo photo

SeoTuner’s Jeremiah Weilert Is named “The Google Wrangler” by Swagger Magazine

On May 10th, Swagger Magazine released a feature on our co-founder Jeremiah Weilert, referring to him as a self-made man stocked with “gumption and go-getter-ism”. And to think it all started with going door-to-door in second grade to sell polished rocks (which he made a $20 profit off of)!

So how did he go from his rock selling days to running a multimillion-dollar SEO company alongside Tony Durso?

What Inspired Jeremiah to Begin SeoTuners?

Jeremiah used to work in a “cookie-cutter sales role” as Swagger put it, which is typically how the business world works—you have to put in your time at the bottom. Learn the ropes as a cog in the machine of the company, and hope that with enough hard work and overtime, someone in higher management will eventually notice you and invite you to move up a step.

Of course, there’s definitely something to be said for putting in your time to learn the lay of the land while working your way up—but sometimes you can become stuck in a business hierarchy that is not functioning well. This can happen when a company refuses to reconsider the way it does business even though circumstances are changing, or when management consistently

turns a deaf ear to innovative suggestions from employees.

Jeremiah was not unwilling to do the work—he became sales manager within six months of starting the job, and in another six months, he became the director of the whole department. This quick advancement is owed to his driven personality—he was passionate about learning and challenging himself, and willing to pivot his management style when it wasn’t working.

But even in this role with perceived leadership power, he found himself constrained by upper management’s inability or unwillingness to change—which ultimately resulted in the company’s dissolution due to Google’s Penguin update. As he notes in the feature:

“When you get as big as they were, and you can’t pivot, you leave yourself vulnerable to Google,” he recalls. “We were running this ginormous SEO company going, ‘there are so many ways for this to go better,’ but upper management wouldn’t take the advice we gave.”

Jeremiah wanted to create a company that would value the ability to anticipate new changes and welcome innovation—and that’s exactly what SeoTuners became.

Creating An Even Playing Field

Cracking the myth that one had to start at the bottom and slowly move to the top, Jeremiah set out to use SEO to ensure that small, budget-conscious companies could consistently show up on the first page of Google, even beating out major brands.

SeoTuners is all about efficiency, adaptation, and resilience. Rather than doing the same things that used to work before, the business focuses on continually trying new and different things that might work even better. And it turns out, this is exactly the type of attitude that’s needed as Google continues to update its algorithms.

The only way to stay at the top in SEO is to change, adapt, and mold one’s strategy as the digital landscape continues to change. And SeoTuners does this by keeping up to date with all of the latest news, statistics, and algorithm updates that are constantly rolling out.

And as Google’s algorithm continues to favor quality, relevance, and credibility, it becomes easier and easier for businesses (no matter their size or wealth) to rank on the front page so long as they showcase these qualities.

Merit Over Profit

For a multitude of industries, bigger doesn’t mean better. SeoTuners wants to help businesses big or small reach their audience so that they can do whatever it is they do best—and sometimes they have to win out over others who only care about making a profit.

This is especially true when it comes to the drug and alcohol treatment center niche. SeoTuners now works with over a hundred of these organizations across the U.S. to help them rank higher on Google so they can better reach the people who need them.

SEO done right is a way to “level the playing field” and help smaller businesses “compete with the big boys online”. It’s a chance to have how high a business ranks on Google have much more to do with the quality of the service than the budget of the business.

So Why Come to Us?

If anyone can do SEO, why come to us? We offer as many tips and tricks as we can on our website, in our blogs, and on our social media posts. There’s nothing we do that anyone else ultimately can’t do.

However, maintaining great SEO takes a lot of time, energy, attention to detail, and a willingness to keep us with the constant changes of the ranking algorithms.

Rather than devoting a significant chunk of your business to that work, we can take this on to let your business devote its time and resources to what it does best, while we do what we do best.

We keep up to date on algorithm changes, trends in the industry, and your businesses’ personal SEO stats to ensure that we’re making a continual effort to improve.

No matter your budget, we are very flexible to meet the needs of your business. Whether you want us to do all of the work or just some of the work, we’ll make it work.

We’re very passionate about what we do—we have swagger—let us help you focus on what you’re passionate about!

If you’re curious about our services in avenues such as e-commerce, conversion rate optimization, local Google ranking, or link building, get in contact with us today. SeoTuners can offer an affordable solution for your business to increase exposure and SERP rankings with organic SEO strategies like keywords. We’re confident we have a solution for all your marketing needs. 

woman on phone

A Guide to Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing

Google My Business (GMB) is a free platform associated with Google released in June 2014 that catalogs local business profiles. A business profile includes things like:

 

  • The name of your business
  • Your business address
  • Contact information
  • Website URL
  • A Description
  • Category
  • Attributes
  • Reviews
  • Questions and Answers
  • Media (photos, videos, posts)

 

So, if it came out in 2014, why are we still talking about it now?

 

Claiming your business on GMB and optimizing your profile is one of the easiest ways to gain web traffic and customers, and yet 53% of local retailers haven’t even claimed their listing.

 

 

graph from Moz

Image Source: https://moz.com/local-search-ranking-factors

 

Google is the king of search, and local SEO (tapped into by GMB) is the most prevalent form of SEO. But with all the information that’s out there about how to optimize your content and platforms, with no real evidence that they actually influence your ranking, is it really worth doing?

 

In the spirit of simplicity, let us offer the following advice on how to cash in on GMB without spending tons of time on factors that may or may not even influence your rank:

 

Claim Your Business and Create Your Profile

 

The most simple and yet effective way to boost your search ranking is just to create or claim your business profile on GMB so that when users are searching for your or your service, your information is out there.

 

One of the most common ranking issues on GMB is having duplicate listings, so before starting a new profile, it’s crucial to search GMB first to see if your business already has a listing. If someone has already claimed your listing (and it’s not someone who should have), follow these steps to contest ownership.

 

To set up your business, you’ll need to include some basic information such as the business name, description, address, and contact information. You’ll verify your business address by postcard in the mail. This ensures that your business is legitimate and should only take about 5 days.

 

Google’s local pack assumes the searcher’s intent is local unless they specify otherwise. Typically, a search includes the name of the company and the location and shows three business listings with a map, though you can click “view all” to see more.

 

screenshot of google page

google screenshot

 

Optimize Your Profile

 

Be sure to enter complete and accurate data while including keywords where they’re appropriate. Stuffing keywords is frowned upon by Google, and the attributes category was actually added to give businesses a chance to highlight more specifically what they offer. There’s no need to overwork yourself here—just be clear and to the point.

 

description and atributes

 

Treat your business description like any other piece of content. Write from the perspective of highlighting the problems you solve for your customers rather than focusing on the brand image of the business. For example, talk about your services and why they matter rather than how long you’ve been in business and your mission statement.

 

Accuracy is incredibly important to your SEO on GMP. If your business name, address, or phone is inconsistent with what’s listed on your website or incorrect, your ranking will be affected. In fact, consistency with this data is the #1 cited ranking issue among businesses according to Search Engine Land.

graph on ranking issues

Along with filling out the basics, including photos is likely to increase the activity on your profile. According to Google, businesses with photos on their listings receive 42% more requests for driving directions on Google Maps and 35% more click-throughs to their websites than businesses without photos. This is no different than SEO for your website or social media, for example.

 

Follow Google Places Guidelines and Consult Your Dashboard

 

It’s possible that guideline violations may be causing more ranking issues than can be gathered by data because it’s difficult to trace.

 

Become intimately familiar with the guidelines and what violations can cause your listing to be removed or penalized. GMB has an extensive volunteer support platform that you can use to ask about problems with your listing if you’re concerned about a violation, or you can also speak directly with Google.

 

GMB’s dashboard (Insights) can also provide really helpful information for your SEO plans such as whether searches landing on your page were direct or through discovery, or whether they were done through search or maps. You can also get information about where customers are based gathered from their direction queries, what actions they take on your page, and the number of calls or messages as well as what time of day they typically happen.

 

The information gathered from your GMB listing could be helpful for your SEO and digital marketing strategy with other platforms as well.

 

Post and Update Regularly

 

The key to SEO is doing whatever it takes to get your business on the front page of search results—75% of people will never scroll past that first page. Sometimes businesses underestimate the power of posting regularly on GMB because posts only last for 7 days or less, but regular posting increases your chances of placing in the top 3 business listings for a search term (the Google local 3-pack) which is the front page of search results.

 

Google posts can be used to highlight upcoming events, new products and services, and recent company updates. They can include text, photos, gifs, and even call-to-action buttons that can contain inbound links.

 

They do have to be regular to be effective, but they don’t have to be long or complex (and in fact, they shouldn’t be!). A regular post could take you as little as 5 minutes per week.

 

Interact with Your Profile

 

Using GMB to reach your target audience and create a connection with them is ultimately what’s going to draw in clients. While some platforms discourage businesses from directly asking for reviews, GMB actually encourages it. Generating as many reviews as possible and responding to those reviews (especially negative ones!) Shows that you’re active, professional, and care about the image of your business.

 

It’s also a good idea to set up the messaging feature on GMB. SMS has been shown to generate a higher response rate than mobile advertising for purchases, appointments booked, and apps downloaded.

 

Setting up the feature is as easy as inputting a phone number and verifying it with a text message code. You can even turn it on and off as needed and update the phone number it’s linked to. Keep in mind that an average response time will be generated based on how long it takes you to respond to inquiries that will be included on your listing.

 

Remember, SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. Google and other search engines are moving towards algorithms that value conciseness, accuracy, quality content, and good customer service above all else. A GMB listing is just another way for you to make yourself available to potential clients and connect with them on a local level.

 

Do you need assistance optimizing your webpages? Get in contact with us today. SeoTuners can offer an affordable solution for your business to increase exposure and SERP rankings with organic SEO strategies like keywords. We’re confident we have a solution for all your marketing needs.