SEO for freelancers

Searched and found online: 5 tips for your online image

Part 4. Make your personality count

This is the forth post on online marketing strategies for SMBs. The first part covers tools for improving your search ranking. Then come your content strategy and content promotion using social media.

And what about personal branding? For me, the concept is too artificial. Too vague. Too misleadingly promising.

Branding was created to add human characteristics to products and companies to make them more appealing to humans. By offering functional and emotional benefits associated with a brand, you are creating a relationship with your audience.

But people are building their professional reputation and not a brand. You already have your functional and emotional benefits (or personal branding is useless for you anyway). It’s high time to make your benefits visible.

You all know that stuff: Create your personal brand. Become a conference speaker. Get the media attention. Write an e-book. Position yourself as an expert in your field and build your tribe. But how could possibly every professional be a well-known expert or every company be innovative?

I don’t say it’s the wrong path. Follow it if you feel inclined. You’ll find tons of ‘expert advice’ on the topic. But I speak of making your offer visible out there.

In the era of online communications and search engines, your personality matters. For a small online business without brick-and-mortar or an office open to the public, the name becomes your store window and your legacy.

References are bread and butter for freelancers. But chances are high that a potential customer will google your name if they are interested in a service partner. Solid reputation attracts better clients for freelancers. Defining your personal and business benefits also facilitates SEO.

To take your reputation and career from obscurity to visibility, you need a carefully planned strategy with a strong focus on content marketing, a fuel for your online presence.

Freelancers online image

1. Shaping your story

Brands can teach us invaluable marketing lessons. For instance, you need to be clear and direct when you present what you do. What are you great at doing anyway?

Think of what is important to you, what you do and do not stand for. Imagine an internal compass that determines your choices and actions. Make it three sentences or even less. Or use phrases, words or bullet points if that suits you.

Craft a narrative if you feel comfortable with it. How did you get started? Why do you specialise in certain areas? Why does your business exist? Who have you worked with and what did you do for them? What have you learnt along the way?

Whenever there is a chance for deeper engagement, be ready to present your skill-set and knowledge that set you apart in a sea of your competitors. Keep in mind your listeners and readers have a short attention span. That’s why a story crafted thoughtfully and structured carefully is a must. Fill out your profiles on the About Me area of your website, blog and/or social media.

While your profile will vary for different media, generally you’ll have:

• Your name (as people would search for it).
• Social accounts associated with you.
• Your profile picture (preferably the same for every account).
• Relevant keywords describing what you do.
• A tone that reflects your personality.
• A strategic link or call to action.

crafting your online story

2. Crafting your style and tone

This step isn’t absolutely required, but it can help you stand out.

If you feel you are reasonably confident about your design skills, there are many free online resources and tools can help you—from articles on branding to colour palette generators and design tools like Canva.

But style is not all about fonts and colours. What’s your tone of voice when communicating with your audience? For your image to be authentic, it should be consistent with your values and personality.

Below you will find ideas from brand creators (The source.)

Describe your online personality

Try to make a list of keywords thinking about how you plan to be perceived by your target audience and how you want to make them feel. Be yourself or create a persona if that seems more suitable for you. The picture below shows the process of linking keywords to archetypes when defining a personality for a brand but you can use it, too.

Defining Brand Personality

Having an angle will give a unique perspective that will mark each piece of content you develop as yours. Why write a cover letter when you can send a video version?

3. Choosing your channels

Next, it’s time to add your online persona to your professional assets.

Online channels are very diverse and may include a website, blog, online portfolio, social media profiles, directories and third-party sites. All of them need to be consistent with your message and style.

Don’t forget that SEO is one of the key tools connecting you to the people who are potentially interested in your knowledge and services. If you want Google to index your information in a really good way, you need a uniform and consistent vanity URL for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Not sure if a preferred URL is available? Check your name at www.namechk.com.

Start writing about what you know and share your personal point of view. Don’t worry about gaining thousands of follows and views. The point is to offer the right people access to your insights and get a glimpse of your professional value when they need it.

Your online persona is not a costume or a disguise. It means your real reputation and the authentic you with the unique talents you possess. Whatever channels you choose, stay true to the real you and maintain consistency.

(That does not mean publicly sharing the after-party photos and discussing your personal relationships or lack thereof. Your digital shadow is much longer than you possibly presume.)

Social media digital shadow

4. Planning the content

Keeping your online presence consistent and updating your spaces with quality content on a regular basis will help you gain exposure.

Every expert should be blogging, they say. Yes, a blog can be your essential tool for SEO but not everyone is ready for regular blogging. Let’s consider other options. What else can you create?

Visual content for social media: images with captions, quotes, headlines. These are readily shared, easy to make and you are free to experiment.

Videos published on YouTube, Vimeo are becoming the dominant force in content marketing. They drive high engagement but can be demanding to create. Don’t forget transcripts (at least partial) for SEO.

Case studies: stories of your clients’ successes. These are a great boost for your credibility. You do not need a website or a blog to use them. Why not share a case study on your LinkedIn profile? Include specific information and conduct interviews to get quotes.

Insights covering professional activity: updates on your professional development and certificates, book and tool reviews, pictures of your projects and processes, etc.

Look for more content strategy tips and ideas in Part 2 of this series.

Shaping your content

5. Providing social proof

When prospective customers encounter your brand, they want to be sure you are trustworthy. Moreover, people want to know what is behind your products and services in a way that shows them that you care and that you are dedicated to solving their problems.

If you have great recommendations on LinkedIn, consider sharing a hyperlinked excerpt that will direct the reader to your LinkedIn page. You can use them in a similar way in a cover letter or on your personal site. When making decisions people rely heavily on the opinions of others.

Other things you can use to convince people that you really know your stuff include:

  • Academic degrees
  • Certifications
  • Awards
  • Publications
  • Presentations
  • Important projects
  • Associations
  • Affiliations
  • Speaking videos

Let your reputation, however you choose to present it, speak for itself. Don’t sell people what you do—share the results to become recognizable. Your achievements are much more tangible than a list of your skills.

Craft your story and convey it to the marketplace in a strategic, consistent manner. Without it, many people will miss your products and services. Add a personal touch to everything you do because people buy from people they know and like.

Your online image

Social media for small business

Searched and found online: 3 top social networks

Tips and tricks to improve your Google ranking by 2018

This is the third post on online marketing strategies for SMB. The first part covers tools for improving your search ranking. And the second is about building your content strategy.

Next comes content promotion. Here, social  media for small business can be a powerful way to amplify and reinforce your carefully created content.

Nearly every online research begins with search engines. More than a half of potential customers research businesses using social media before making a purchasing decision.

Social media is free and it lets you talk to customers anywhere. So how can you use social media to its advantage?

PLAN AHEAD

To effectively cross-promote your content, you can’t simply post the same message on each social network; you need to tailor it to fit each platform and audience.

When promoting a blog post or a campaign, you may need to address your Facebook fans in a different way than your LinkedIn audience. On Twitter, you have to keep your message short and simple.

Here’s a look at three top social networks with some marketing tips and tricks.

#1 FACEBOOK

Your Page establishes your business’ presence on Facebook, so people can find out about you and connect with you. Commit to your personality: share your knowledge, talk about your experiences, and interact.

10 Facebook tips for your Business Page

1

The cover photo is an area for some promotion of your business, your contest or giveaway. The cover page loads fastest as an sRGB JPG file 851 x 315 pixels and less than 100 kilobytes.

Facebook posts can be up to 10,000 characters but be sure to put the main message into the first 480 characters as only they show up in the feed.

2

Update the Page template to best suit your business (Settings > Edit Page > Edit Template). You can choose Business, Services, Shopping, Venues, Politicians, Restaurants and Cafés, or the Standard template.

Complete your About section as it often the first place your visitors scan after a Google search. It’s your landing page for Facebook. Your short description, the one line pitch, is your value proposition or unique selling point. Add your social links and contacts.

3

Add relevant keywords to your About section for better SEO. Only the first 75 characters will appear on your wall, and they are most valuable for search engines. Include a link to your website in those first 75 characters.

Add relevant keywords to your posts and to captions of your Facebook images.

4

Be responsive to messages and comments but note that you can set you Response Time marker automatically OR manually (Settings > Messaging). To receive private messages in addition to comments, enable the messages feature in Settings > General.

Enable Response Assistant to respond automatically with a customised message (Settings > Messaging).

5

Take advantage of call-to-action buttons available for a Page (the bottom right-hand corner of the cover photo). The buttons make it easier to get in touch with the business.

Add Button to Facebook page

Customise your tabs of the left side bar (Settings > Edit Page > Tabs). Drag and drop tabs to change the order and complete all the information.

5

Make good use of custom Facebook tabs. You create a custom landing page right on your page for almost any purpose.

Here are some ideas:

  • Get more subscribers to your business blog.
  • Promote registration for your upcoming event.
  • Create a library of downloadable offers to generate leads
  • Feature customer testimonials or case studies

Facebook has made this setup process somewhat trickier over the years, but you can use third-party services:

Woobox

woobox
Easy Tab Creator

Easy Tab Creator
Facebook Timeline Contests

facebook timeline contests
ShortStack

shortstack facebook7

Experiment with different post styles and types. Your posts are meant to be marketing tools! Facebook Stories are in-the-moment content clips that appeared only in 2017. Give sneak peeks into industry events, product launches, and behind the scenes content with Facebook Live.

Facebook post formats

If possible, embed your Facebook content into blog posts or other online publications. Click in the upper right-hand corner of your post, copy, and paste.

8

Don’t forget your past successes. Recycle or repost past successful content to save you needed time and energy. Some of your readers did miss the posts that performed well in the past.

To find most popular posts on your Page click on the Insights tab at the top of your Page, and then go to the Posts section on the left hand side. To see which posts were reaching the most users, click Reach in the top menu of the table. To see which posts were getting the most engagement, click Engagement in the top menu of the table. You can sort engagement even further by Post Clicks, Reactions, or Comments & Shares.

9

Have fun and be social. Facebook was created to connect individuals around the world.

Your Facebook insights will tell you when the majority of your fans are online, so you can adjust to the time periods they prefer.

10

Need more ideas?

52 Facebook Marketing Ideas

12 Easy Ways to Find Engaging Facebook Content

#2 LINKEDIN

A professional business network, LinkedIn can be used to share content about your business or industry sector. It’s also useful for networking and establishing closer contacts.

LinkedIn has 3x higher visitor-to-lead conversion rate then Twitter and Facebook. It’s sure a place to increase your marketing presence, build new relationships with customers and form your professional network.

10 LinkedIn tips for your profile and business page

1

The cover photo is one more way to brand yourself. You can connect it to your profession, tell a visual story or share your best contact info but be sure that the image represents you as a person and a professional. The new recommended size is 1584 wide by 396 high (4:1).

On the new user interface only a small piece of your summary is displayed. Concentrate on the first sentence to grab the attention of your visitor. Try “view as” mode for your profile to check the result.

2

Beware of buzzwords when filling out your profile or a business page. Every year, LinkedIn releases a ranking of the 10 buzzwords on profiles which are used so often they become almost meaningless. This year’s adjectives are: specialised, leadership, focused, strategic, experienced, passionate, expert, creative, innovative and certified.

Instead of using buzzwords, add keywords to various sections of your profile including your headline, your summary, or your work experience.

LinkedIn Buzzwords3

LinkedIn is one of the top sites that Google indexes regularly so your SEO is relevant for headline, summary, job titles. Use keywords that people use when they’re searching for the services in your niche. Think in terms of 3-5 words to avoid overstuffing.

Rename images on your profile adding keywords: include a name that will get you discovered online to gain more exposure. Make use of backlinks: add a link to your blog page and consider linking back to your profile page for a higher profile ranking.

4

You can post on your profile, on company page, and in groups. Republish your blog posts on LinkedIn Pulse. (Better wait a couple of weeks after the original publication and think of a new headline though.)

You can also turn your post or presentation into a document on SlideShare as LinkedIn has bought the platform and integrated SlideShare into accounts. Feel free to share your blog content in appropriate groups as well, but use different text and post on different days and times.

5

Share your blog posts in LinkedIn with an image and a link. Keep the description copy to 70 characters and feature a call to action. Everything after 100 characters will be truncated and likely have a negative effect on engagement rates.

If you choose to report key industry news and trends, try to add value and provide key insights and takeaways. Make your text personal and engaging. Your audience consists of individuals, not institutions and entities.

6

Showcase pages on LinkedIn are extensions of a Company Page. They can be used to promote a product or business initiative. In fact, such niche page for targeted segments can serve as a specialised landing page connecting to your website.

You can offer different products or services on the separate pages linking them to your main page. It’s a great way to address various target audiences while continuing your work on brand building.

LinkedIn Showpages7

LinkedIn was created for networking. Get into the habit of following up meetings and conversations with LinkedIn connection requests – it’s a great way of keeping your network up to date and relevant.

The blueprint for writing an undeniable LinkedIn connection requests comes down to four rules. Your request must be: polite, personalized, professional, and (yes, right) praiseful. Some useful tips on writing LinkedIn requests were published by HubSpot and the Muse.

8

Make use of search functions when looking for new customers. Instead of the Advanced Search function, the new version offers a multi-layered search with the support of AND, OR, NOT Boolean phrases.

You can further refine the global search with the filters on the right-hand side of the page and save the search and get regular updates. Here is your LinkedIn search guide.

9

After searching for your ideal clients or partners take advantage of your ability to send up to 15 free messages per month to people that share a LinkedIn Group in common with you.

Your 15 messages are collectively for all of your groups each month. Unsent messages don’t carry over to the next period. The limit includes messages sent directly from groups including messages to your 1st degree connections.

10

If you post articles to LinkedIn Publisher, you can see people who liked or commented on your posts. These people had a positive interaction with your content and have some idea of who you are, so they may be your potential prospects and connections.

#3 TWITTER

In recent years, Twitter has been in a slow decline as its original appeal isn’t as exciting as 11 years ago. Despite that it is still a valid communication tool for reaching almost any type of audience.

Being one of the top social media sites in the world, Twitter is meant for building a dialogue with its real-time, quick-to-read updates. It allows you to listen to people and join in with their conversations.

10 Twitter tips for better promotion

1

In September, Twitter started testing 280 character limit to give posts more space. Nevertheless, it remains at its core a short message service. Avoid aggressive selling, excessive self-promotions and retweets cluttering fan feeds.

If you are eager to try lengthier messages right now, here are some suggestions on using Twitter new 280-character format.

2

You have 160 characters for you bio field on Twitter. Do keep it brief and include links to other websites and pages instead.

Make sure you use http:// at the beginning of your links for these links to be clickable.

3

It was the first social network to introduce hashtags and @ handles for better search and networking. Hashtags make your tweet more searchable and @ handles are used to give credit to or message other Twitter accounts.

Use tags (but not abuse). If you add three or more hashtags in your tweets, they look like spam and are a lot harder to read. Write shorter updates and leave room to include via @YourUsername if someone wants to share your content.

4

The lifespan of a tweet is about less than 20 minutes. If you share your blog posts, do it more than once on different days and at different times. Post your evergreen content every couple of months mixing them with curated content and retweets.

It’s fine to repeat Tweets more than once over a day if they are relevant and timely. Twitter internal data shows B2B audiences are much more likely to engage on Twitter after seeing business’s message for several times.

5

To get more retweets, be sure to include images and links. Avoid posting news without relevant links. You can upload up to four images to any tweet excluding animated GIFs when posting from an event or destination. Just tap on the Camera button and select up to four images.

Twitter even allows you to search for GIF’s while composing a new tweet to enhance your post with visual content. You can also use images to get past character limit if you attach a screenshot with some text or notes.

GIFs on Twitter6

You can now retweet your old tweets if they are relevant again or you feel they have gone unnoticed. Please note that each tweet can be retweeted only once to reduce the clutter in users’ newsfeeds.

Do not forget to promote your best tweets through a Pinned Tweet and stick the compelling content at the top of your page. Rotate the slot every few weeks to keep it relevant.

7

Use lists actively to organize and curate content. Main stream of latest tweets contains too much information. Even basic tools like Tweet Deck can be of great help here.

Some ideas for your lists: influencers, customers, leads/prospects. Feel free to make some of your lists private. Note that anybody can view a public list and users receive notifications when you add them.

Tweet Deck8

Try to maintain consistent communication and include similar keywords you use on your website, if it goes with what you’re tweeting about. Remember that hashtags play the role of keywords for Twitter. Analyze which hashtags bring you the most engagement and optimize your profile by focusing on the more effective ones.

Note that you can tag up to 10 people in a tweet image. This means you can add up to 10 @ handles without affecting your character limit in the original message.

9

Short links are popular on Twitter as they make your message easier to read. Here are some popular sites you can use:

10

Don’t miss a chance to embed tweets into websites as an embedded tweet is intuitive. Anyone logged into Twitter can reply it, retweet, add to favourites.

To embed a tweet tap on the More (…) button below the tweet, select the Embed Tweet option, then copy and paste the embed code into any HTML document.

SOME FINAL NOTES

Keep your name and @ handle consistent across all of your social channels to make you more searchable. Avoid using numbers in your username because it might seem spammy to Google.

Keep your pages regularly updated if you have them. Inactive social media accounts and unanswered queries could seriously harm your business. It just looks as if you don’t care.

If you’re a business with visual products, having a presence on Pinterest and Instagram is crucial. But you should focus your marketing efforts only on 1 to 3 platforms.

The number of followers and likes you have is going to mean less and less. It’s time to look at engagement. Find out what your audience wants to read, teach how to do something, inspire as people want to be inspired.

Good luck!

Make your business found online

Searched and found online: 4 crucial SEO steps

Part 1. Google rankings for SMB: tools and checklists

My last year’s CPD included quite a few of courses and certifications in online and content marketing.

To make better use of how-tos learned, I decided to proceed with a series of online marketing and promotion guides. Are you seeking ideas to optimise your website and content for discovery and conversion? Follow the blog for actionable tips! To ensure they work, I will use them while updating and optimising my own sites. (Keen to see the results!) More links may be added later if I discover more useful tools.

The planned topics:
Content-related best practices
Social media tips and tricks
– Branding strategies
– Latest marketing trends to know about
– And this one, SEO as the core element to make your business readily found online

Websites and online content should help us get customers. But first, potential customers must become aware that we exist.

By SEO we mean all the methods you can use for better visibility of websites and content on search engine results pages.

The following steps will help you to position your website and/or brand better in organic (non-paid) results, draw in new clients, and get a chance to increase conversions.

step 1. KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST SEO TRENDS

For several years, Google has been focusing on understanding ‘natural’ queries brought by the increase of mobile and voice searches. The search engine has now improved significantly in conversational language processing.

The traditional view of ‘keywords’ has changed as the search became semantic. It now works with non-specific natural search terms in use and attempts to find the core concept they belong to.

That enables Google to understand the intent behind queries and provide more relevant search results to the user. To become a part of relevant search results, your website and SEO should fulfil the following basic tasks:

  1. Explain to Google and searchers what your company does
  2. Offer easy navigation to help visitors find what they need
  3. Answer visitors’ questions through rich content and social proof

At present, more than 200 Google factors influence your search positions. But the three top ranking factors are links, content & RankBrain, the algorithm for indexing online content.

The methods to achieve higher rankings include on-page optimisation (working with your content); off-page approaches (link-building, social media marketing), and—as usual—analytics and feedback.

Successful SEO practices are always tied to business goals and client-oriented. You need to analyse what your message is and whom it’s for. Get to know your potential customers, their needs and pressing issues. In that case even a lower traffic volume will be invaluable, especially for niche and technical products and services.

step 2. MAKE USE OF WEBSITE OPTIMISATION CHECKLIST

Always start with inner optimisation to create a solid foundation for future activities. Pay special attention to the following points:

1. Loading speed

The load speed of your webpage is increasingly becoming a differentiator for search engines.

Start with free Google Page Speed Checker. Your aim is a green check mark.

For better results,  implement the recommendations offered by the service. A spoiler: you may well need a programmer to get a flawless version but some tips are easy and actionable. My results after some light optimisation are quite good. (92 for mobile and 96 for desktop instead of 33 and 38.)

  • Always optimise your images. Use services like compressor.io or Photoshop > Save for Web
  • Get rid of plugins for WordPress if they are not a must. The less, the better
  • W3 Total Cache plugin is highly recommended (Not sure of settings? Try this resource or google another one)

My Site Optimised

 

More free speed test tools are available online.

2. 404 errors and identical content

For link checking, try free Xenu’s Link Sleuth or use Google Search Console.

The console is a part of Google Toolkit for Webmasters and a must have for everyone interested in search rankings.

business found online_google console_en

If Google finds two identical pieces of content, whether on your own site or on another you’re do not even know of, it indexes only one of the pages. Be aware of sites stealing and republishing your content.

Copycats can outrank you even with the stolen content. If you have identified an offending website, take the appropriate action. Contact the website owner or use Google’s content removal form.

3. Responsive design

The share of mobile traffic continues to increase (see below). Moreover, Google has stated that responsive design is its preferred method of mobile optimisation. Non-responsive websites won’t rank high.

You can check adaptability using Google mobile friendly service or pull up your website on a smartphone. Are the fonts adapted? Does the content fit the screen? Is there space enough between text, graphics, and links?

If you plan to enjoy tonnes of mobile traffic, consider investigating Google AMP project. Early adopters report a serious increase in returning mobile search users.

Mobile-share-of-online-time-percent-2017

4. Website structure

For providing the best possible user experience, you need an easily navigable, searchable site with relevant internal linking and related content.

SEO experts agree that to get the most traffic you should have dedicated pages for every service you offer, industries and sectors you work with, portfolio and/or blog. Other pages are business-dependent. For example, translators/interpreters could add a page for each of their working languages.

Internal linking helps Google crawl and index your site, provides your audience with further reading options and adds to online business visibility for specific keywords.

SEO optimised website structure

5. Content

No more on-purpose mistakes, strange phrases for strict matching or atrocious keyword stuffing. Luckily for us, Google search algorithms became more mature in recent years.

You’ll find signals for content quality in the Google Search Quality Ratings Guidelines. They pay special attention to the level of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness. A satisfying amount of high-quality main content matters, too.

Stylistically correct and aimed at user needs

Search engines try to provide the most appropriate results to queries, so they look for relevancy.

Google’s Webmaster Academy course tells you how to “create valuable content.” Avoid broken links, wrong information, grammar or spelling mistakes, excessive ads.

Your SEO friends:
– Subheadings
– Bulleted lists
– Shorter sentences (14–16 words max)
– Shorter paragraphs to grasp the idea
– Structured content
– Thematic completeness
– Relevant keywords/phrases co-occurrence
– Graphics with keywords in ALT tags.

Leveraging ‘psychology tricks’

Optimise content titles for more clicks AND better search rating. Note: Your content should still be relevant to the headline or you risk a high bounce rate.

The biggest winners are striking headlines which include numbers and superlative words like “amazing” or “inspiring.”

Your SEO friends:
– Optimized headlines (emotions + promise + keyword)
– Calls for action where possible and/or necessary.

Adapted and unique

When localising content, look for cultural and/or social differences. Get rid of the content irrelevant to the local audience. Pay attention to local Latent Semantic Index (LSI) keywords instead: phrases similar to your main keywords. Google loves them. (See below.)

Your SEO friends:
– Natural word order
– Locally relevant content
– Content checking services
(Glvrd.ru for Russian texts; Hemingway editor for English content).

step 3. GET FAMILIAR WITH KEYWORDS

Accurate and relevant keywords within headlines and anchor text along with proper tagging are still among SEO best practices. 93% of online experiences begin with a search, and a search begins with words.

Research target keywords

Create a short list of keywords relevant to your area of expertise and use them often across your site and social media profiles.

In case you localise your website or social media content, consider researching keywords in your target languages as keyword translation does not suit your needs.

Google’s Keyword Planner is the easiest way to search for keywords. Tip: to access it you need an account in Google AdWords. (If that’s not an option you will find some other tools below.)

If you need to localise your keywords for the Russian-speaking audience, you may also try Yandex’s Keyword Statistics or Serpstat to find targeted keywords.

Expand to long-tail keywords and natural language

These are your cornerstones to fit the requirement of current search algorithms and user behaviour. Latest Google searching algorithms use latent semantic indexing (long tail keywords) to understand user search habits and give best content for their search queries.

Long tail keywords are keywords that contain 3 or more words. Why do we need them?

– Specific queries are easier to rank
– Long-tail keywords bring relevant visitors to the website
– They mean lower competition
– LSI offers low cost-per-click and increased conversion

Google’s Keyword Planner is pretty much useless for key phrase research be it blogging, SEO or content marketing. Free but powerful tools can offer synonyms which are searched more frequently or search prompts for phrases useful for you, or show keywords working for your competitors.

Ubersuggest. It adds every letter in the alphabet after the keyword to generated hundreds of long tail keyword suggestions.
AnswerThePublic. A one pager that can be used to understand what truly matters to your clients (remember to pick up a country).
Keywordtool.io. 750+ keyword suggestions for free. Considered one of best tool for long tail keywords.
LSI Graph. LSI keyword generator.

Feel free to use Google tools extensively. Use the search bar to type in a keyword and see what Google Auto Suggest gives you. Use Google Trends to search for popular phrases and figure out which variation of a keyword is best. Google Correlate shows search patterns which correspond with real-world trends.

Understand the user intent behind target keywords

Natural language is taking over search queries. Where users would once type words they are now asking questions. Those questions essentially become long-tail keywords for your SEO strategy.

Plug your core keywords into Google and study the results for user intent. Use them strategically as you plan and craft content. Match your website and your content to the kinds of information that users need. If a brand wants to rank well for the term (aka keyword), they need to provide high-quality content defining the term and explaining their industry.

Aim for topical completeness as too generic texts have a much higher bounce rate with a negative effect on search engine positions. Longer (more than 1000 words) ‘how to’ guides, case studies, niche insights, expert comments, life hacks both attract and add value in the sales funnel. Having a FAQ page with all user intent questions could be a good thought.

The SEMrush Keyword Difficulty tool assesses which keywords are worth targeting or are too difficult to rank for. The tool provides a keyword difficulty index from 1-100 percent to show you how difficult it’ll be to beat your competitors with the specified search terms and phrases.

Optimise your content with keywords

Basic keyword optimisation principles:

– A keyword in the Title tag
– A keyword or a synonym in H1 tag
– H2 subheadings should be present
– Several long-tail keywords with synonyms
– Graphics is a must (photo, infographic)
– Internal links to similar content (with keywords) to improve user experience
– External links to authoritative high ranking sites

Searchers get results not only based on the exact word they typed but by what the search engine deems to be meaningfully related. Now a smaller site gains benefits that can make a huge difference to your SEO. Target keywords that the competitors are unwilling or unable to compete on.

step 4. MOVE TO OFF-SITE OPTIMISATION CHECKLIST

Authority has always been a component of Google’s search. To determine if your answer is any better Google looks at the number, and quality, of other websites that have placed links to your site – especially in the same industry or niche.

A free extension for Chrome web browser, the Moz Bar gives instant insights on different kinds of links and helps determine if a link is beneficial for your website or not. Track your backlinks and disallow the unwanted links to protect your site from Google Penalty.

Apparently, link building is the key to your off-site optimisation. Good content brings you natural backlinks adding to your search engine page position. Another obvious way to raise your site’s visibility through off-site SEO is social media marketing (SMM).

Be present on all relevant social channels (follow the white rabbit target audience). Note that faceless broadcasting does not add to your SEO. Make SMM a customer service channel and interact with people to generate interest and attract visitors to your website.

Relying on finding and verifying local data, Google My Business is a great tool for local SEO. A keyword in your business name means that you will rank higher.

Various tools are out there to find non-linked mentions of your brand. Analyse them and turn the most relevant mentions into backlinks.

Your SEO friends:

– Catalogues
– Local resources
– Online media
– Info partners
– Commenting
– Online social profiles.

CORNERSTONES TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS FOUND ONLINE

Keyword optimised headings, helpful navigation, and value-added content appeal both to search engines and human visitors. Show how your service solves user’s problems and be clear with the next action to take.

  1. Write down your expertise and target customers
  2. Make sure there are no technical issues left (items 1-3 of website checklist)
  3. Create an optimised website structure based on keywords
  4. Develop your content policy (style, headlines, adaptation where needed)
  5. Create relevant and useful content
  6. Popularise your content and build links for authoritativeness and trustworthiness (off-page optimisation)
  7. Analyse KPIs (visitors, number of leads/conversions/closed sales, goals achievement, competitors, etc.)
  8. Do not stop: correct, improve, and fine-tune

Good luck! Next come content-related best practices.

Translation Quality Style Guides

Translation Quality 101. Part 3

The whys and hows of a style guide

This is the third part of Translation Quality 101 series. Part 1. Source materials for translation. Part 2. Terminology management.

You may think that style guides describing language recommendations and stylistic nuances are for global companies and thriving publishing houses only. Want to think again?

Your translator will appreciate even a short and simple instruction especially if it is combined with a glossary and reference materials.

When the translator knows for sure what are the company’s preferred terms and style the task will be completed faster.

Please note that if carefully prepared and regularly updated, a style guide is a key to increasing the quality of translations and the effectiveness of published materials.

WHAT IS A STYLE GUIDE?

A style guide is a list of defined requirements—sometimes a very short one—that reflects the expectations and preferences of a translation customer.

To make your guide easier to use, consider a two-part structure. The first part could be regular and valid for all translation tasks, and the part second could be variable and project-related.

Feel free to include a brief description of your company, its products and services, main goals and tasks in the regular part. Other possible options are:

  • Target market (country, industry, competitors)
  • Language style: clear, academic, technical, etc.
  • Forbidden words and terms
  • Non-translated words and phrases
  • Non-standard abbreviations
  • Formatting and typography (fonts, phone numbers, etc.)

The changing part is valid for a current translation project only:

  • Document type: a promo leaflet, press release, website update, etc.
  • Target audience: age, social, occupation, etc.
  • Aim of the document: branding and image, customer information (for sales team, for marketing team, etc.)
  • Tone: formal, informal, neutral
  • In focus: information or style; close proximity to the original or adaptation for better engagement.

WHY A STYLE GUIDE?

Expectations and preferences approved beforehand help maintain the consistent tone and language improving the company’s image.

When presented with a style guide, the translator needs less time for research and reference reading, so the material is delivered quicker. Moreover, knowing the target audience (an ideal reader or website visitor), your translator will be able to choose proper style and language.

No extra round of inner corrections and approvals means further time savings for the customer.

When developing a style guide, pay special attention to the document structure. Nobody is going to use a guide if it is too complex or overloaded with information (even with the words ‘DON’T PANIC’ in large, friendly letters on the cover). Leave out rules and recommendations that are well-known to any professional translator or a linguist. If the document has many pages, consider adding a table of content with links.

WHO CREATES A STYLE GUIDE?

Too often translation customers underestimate the importance of clear instructions and rules. But a proper style guide can be created only through their intensive engagement. The customer is providing reference materials, notes, and information. Clearly, it’s up to the customer to define the desired audience and the message.

McLean’s Maxim: There are only two problems with people. One is that they don’t think. The other is that they do. There will be always someone (an employee or a subcontractor) who tries to ignore the style guide no matter how clear and simple it is. To keep such cases to an absolute minimum, (a) update your style guide consistently; (b) make it easily accessible to all interested stakeholders.

If no style guide is available, the translator and the reviewer can create a version of their own. It could be as simple as that:

Style Sheet Example

WHEN IS A STYLE GUIDE CREATED?

Data collection, style guide updates and edits should be handled by one person. For a light start, create a list of names, persons, titles, terms, abbreviations that are already present in the company’s documents. Common mistakes and translation-related questions can be added to the style guide later.

If you are a translator pondering over a style guide, the best time to create one is when you are starting your cooperation with a new customer. You can update the document when the customer sends you edits or comments explaining certain standards or undesirable terms.

Improvise! The introduction to the style guide by The Economist begins with six elementary rules formulated by George Orwell.

1 Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2 Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3 If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out.
4 Never use the Passive where you can use the active.
5 Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a Jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6 Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

SOME USEFUL LINKS

– An open guide to preferred National Geographic style and usage: http://stylemanual.natgeo.com/

– Microsoft Style Guides: https://www.microsoft.com/Language/en-US/StyleGuides.aspx

– Facebook Language Style Guides in 72 languages: https://www.facebook.com/translations/style_guides

Terminology management

Translation Quality 101. Part 2

Terminology management

This is the second part of Translation Quality 101 series.

Part 1. Source materials for translation. Part 3. Style guides.

ISO 1087-1 (2000) defines the term as a “verbal designation of a general concept in a specific subject field.” Some terms consist of more than one word. These terms are called multiword terms or compounds.

At present, terms are the most flexible part of the vocabulary. The terminology is the first to face shifts in the lexical system including designation methods.

TIS BUT MY TERM THAT IS MY ENEMY

Are the terms that much important when translating corporate communications and materials? According to TermNet, 80% of mistakes in translation relate to term usage. A recent survey conducted by SDL showed that correct and consistent term usage remained one of the major challenges for translation buyers. 48% of respondents mentioned inconsistency in terminology among issues with translation quality.

Global businesses and corporations tend to choose a coordinated approach to terminology management. They devise policies, hold terminology bases with metadata, create reference materials.

Product managers, engineers and developers, marketing teams, technical writers and translators are all get involved in terminology management here.

But even a small Excel database helps improve translation quality, prevent unnecessary questions and clarify doubts, and speed up the work for writers and translators.

In-house term management should always correlate with job responsibilities. Who provides the data? Who approves terminology? What are the areas of responsibility? The first stage is to determine the aims and objectives of terminology management, the target audience (or audiences), and the scope of communication covered.

Three steps for an efficient terminology management include: creation – approval – usage.

TERM CREATION

The life cycle of a term includes: request, approval, discussion, description, translation, editing. When devising the procedures, it is recommended to find an easy and convenient way to make requests, to discuss terms, to approve definitions and translations.

Possible key stakeholders are the company’s technicians, industry experts, branches and local offices, local and foreign partners, linguists and translators.

ISO’s criteria for the selection and formation of terms are transparency, consistency, appropriateness, linguistic economy, derivability, linguistic correctness, and preference for native language. Full definitions for each criterion are covered in the ISO standard 704 “Terminology work — Principles and methods.”

  1. Transparency

A term or appellation is considered transparent when the concept it designates can be inferred, at least partially, without a definition or an explanation. In other words, the meaning of a term or appellation can be deduced from its parts.

  1. Consistency

The terminology of any subject field should not be an arbitrary and random collection of terms, but rather a coherent terminological system corresponding to the concept system. Existing terms and appellations and neoterms and appellations must integrate into and be consistent with the concept system.

  1. Appropriateness

Proposed terms and appellations should adhere to familiar, established patterns of meaning within a language community. Formations that cause confusion should be avoided. Terms should be as neutral as possible. They should avoid distracting connotations, especially negative ones.

  1. Linguistic economy

A term should be as concise as possible. Undue length is a serious shortcoming. It violates the principle of linguistic economy and it frequently leads to ellipsis (omission).

  1. Derivability and compoundability

Productive term formations that allow derivatives and compounds (according to whatever conventions prevail in an individual language) should be favoured.

  1. Linguistic correctness

When neoterms or appellations are coined, they should conform to the morphological, morphosyntactic, and phonological norms of the language in question.

  1. Preference for native language

Even though borrowing from other languages is an accepted form of term formation, native-language expressions should be given preference over direct loans.

In Russian these principles are прозрачность, последовательность, адекватность, лингвистическая экономия, выводимость и сочлененность, лингвистическая корректность, предпочтение родного языка, according to GOST R ISO 704-2010 currently in use.

Basic rules applied to formation of terms and appellations:

  • For a standardized terminology, it is desirable that a term be attributed to a single concept.
  • Before creating a neoterm, it is necessary to ascertain whether a term already exists for the concept in question.
  • Well-established usage has to be respected.
  • Established and widely used designations, even if they are poorly formed or poorly motivated, should not be changed unless there are compelling reasons.
  • If several designations exist for a single concept, the one that satisfies the largest number of principles listed below shall be selected as the preferred designation.

APPROVAL OF TERMS

Terminology work requires regular analysis, documentation, storage and distribution of terminology data. A terminology base (term base) is the most common way to collect, document, and control terms.
 
Before creating a term base, it should be clear who handles coining and approval of terms and who is going to use the base (including outer stakeholders like translators, business partners, and end users).
 
In terms of translation quality, the key task of a term base is to show preferable (recommended), possible and rejected (forbidden) terms.
 
When managing terms at a corporate level, it is advisable to cover all words and phrases important for your business. Do not limit yourself to terms that belong to a sublanguage in a specific subject field. If a word is being used in marketing collateral, it should have an approved, consistent  translation.
 
It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare definitions and descriptions for concepts in a term base. Therefore, it’s perfectly ok to include definitions only for terms absent in standard dictionaries, acronyms, abbreviations, and proper names (corporate units, products, etc.). Pay greater attention to known usage issues and to entries with preferable and rejected variants of translation.
 
An approved term base backed by a solid terminology policy will be a first step to efficient handling of terms at a corporate level.

TERMINOLOGY USAGE

To start using correct terminology you need a team that shares your values. Terminology management is successful only when every company employee contributes to preparing and updating the termbase or keeps using it.

A well-managed, standartised terminology develops into higher quality collaterals and technical documents, lower research and lookup time. Materials aimed at a certain target audience enjoy correct terms. The lower risk of misunderstanding brings better customer satisfaction and improves retention rate. The audience is no longer exposed to unclear abbreviations and jargon. Moreover, a comprehensive term base containing definitions is a way to transfer knowledge capital accumulated by employees.

But if terminology management is neglected, everybody is free to choose terms to their liking. Inconsistent terminology looks unprofessional at best. Moreover, it means potential problems with product usage. As a result, texts will be re-edited later with even more time and effort invested.

All in all, terminology is a key to efficient publications and documents, better corporate image and visibility, and higher quality documents including the translated ones.

WHERE TO START

  1. Analyse your goals: Why do you need terminology management? What are you planning to implement, improve, or prevent?
  2. Check collections of terms that you already have: size, format, languages, quality, sources.
  3. Approve a format for your custom term bases: definition, sphere of usage, source, picture, notes on usage, etc.
  4. Agree on priorities: the most important projects, texts, languages, etc.
  5. Create a path toward implementation involving inner resources and/or outer partners. If you choose to rely on your own resources check if your employees are competent enough.
  6. Draw a plan: who does what, when and how.
  7. Go on with a pilot project: a certain product or a service, small budget and scope of tasks.
  8. Be prepared to regular activities; your goal is not a single error-free message.

ADDITIONAL LINKS AND DOCUMENTS