All posts by benxgenx

SEO: Micro-formatting

SEO: Micro-formatting

Microformats are syntax that help a search engine identify the specific types of content on your website.

The best resource for assistance with microformatting is This site will help you find and use the HTML syntax you need to optimize your site for search engines.

In particular, microformatting:

  1. Uses specific syntax to identify types of content
  2. Tells search engines what kind of content they are indexing
  3. Helps return content to users who are seeking it


SEO: User Generated Content

SEO: User Generated Content

Hark! A prize we all fight for: user-generated content.

This includes comments on our blogs, votes, product reviews, guest blogger contributions, articles, and social media interactions.

User-generated content is valuable because it can establish trust/authority and help other users find your content through sharing.

But it also requires an approval process (to filter out irrelevant or damaging content) and reputation management (when negative comments or reviews arise, they must be addressed.)

SEO: Optimizing Non-Text Components

SEO: Optimizing Non-Text Components

Non-text components include images, videos, audio, infographs, and other media that are not purely text. In order to maximize their effectiveness, the HTML surrounding these items requires additional attention.


  1. Optimize text around these components. Focus on descriptions, HTML elements, and transcripts.
  2. Make use of microformatting. See for microformatting guidelines.
  3. Use a video sitemap to make sure the search engines understand your content. Check out this video sitemap guide from Moz.
  4. Analyze content quality. One tool for doing so is the Moz On-Page Grader.


SEO: Content Optimization

SEO: Content Optimization & Textual Elements

  1. Seek clarity and quality at all times.
  2. Create content that others will want to share. Sharing is a sign of trust and search engines are sensitive to it.
  3. Build authority by developing themes.
  4. Optimize site structure and textual page elements.

Optimizing Textual Page Elements

  1. URL – must be concise, contain keywords or phrases, and/or usable information. Use hyphens to help search engines process your information.
  2. Meta Title Tags – these tags appear in search engine results and entice users to click. Make them readable and concise. The Moz Title Tag Preview Tool will let you see how your meta title tags will appear on the SERP.
  3. Meta Descriptions – these can improve your click-through rate and are often used as text that shows up in a search engine result.
  4. H1 Header Tags – include keywords, as these function as a headline for your page.
  5. Body Text – repeat the target phrase 1-3 times. Don’t overdo it: search engines recognize this as “spammy” and may penalize you for it.
  6. Images – use keywords in image tags and alt text to optimize



SEO: Keyword Research

SEO: Keyword Research

Before diving into keyword strategy, a research plan needs to be developed. This includes uncovering the effectiveness, frequency, relevance, and competitiveness of particular keywords.

One misstep that should be avoided at all costs is approaching keywords from one’s own perspective. Instead, the SEO strategist must get into the minds of customers and understand the rules by which search engines operate.

Strategies for developing a keyword research plan

  1. Brainstorming – trying to unpack every possible angle, association, and aspect of the business that could yield valuable keywords
  2. Collecting search volume metrics – shorter keywords will be more competitive, while long-tail keywords may be more relevant to your customers and less sought after by your competitors
  3. Categorize the keywords – sometimes referred to as “clustering,” this process allows you sort keywords by topic and possible derive new keyword opportunities

Keyword Tools

  1. Google AdWords Keyword Planner (In AdWords, click the wrench icon in the upper right hand menu and select “Keyword Planner.”)
  2. Google Trends
  3. Moz Keyword Explorer
  4. SEMrush
  5. ahrefs Keywords Explorer
  6. Raven Tools
  7. Keyword Discovery
  8. Linkdex
  9. Alexa Marketing Stack
  10. Longtail Pro

In addition to those listed above, there are other research tools available. 

Keyword Attributes

  • Relevance
  • Search Volume
  • Competition

Keyword Evaluation: Adapt, Test, Adapt, Retest. And so on. 

Strategy notes

  1. One solid strategy is to use less competitive, but highly relevant keywords.
  2. If you have a keyword with no page dedicated to it, create one.
  3. Download keyword data into a spreadsheet to make it easy to sort and filter.
  4. Align your page’s content to your keywords.

SEO Analysis

SEO: Earning Experience in the Best Way Possible

In addition to teaching myself SEO and content marketing through reading, earning certifications, and watching online tutorials, I’ve been reaching out to friends and family who have business websites.

The pitch goes something like this: I need experience putting together SEO analyses and strategies. If you let me use your website for my research, I’ll share my results with you so you can put my recommendations to work. Free help for you, free experience for me. 

So what am I doing for them?

The SEO Analysis

First, I’ll take a look at some key performance indicators:

  1. SE results for Google and Bing – quick check to see the site’s current visibility and which competitors may outrank it
  2. URL check – I’ll want to make sure the site’s URL contains the site name or some descriptive text. This helps the SE understand the site’s purpose and how to categorize it.
  3. Meta-description tags – I’ll be making sure this bit of information (which shows up on the SERP) contains critical keywords and accurate descriptions
  4. Look at global rankings – I want to drill deeper into how the site is faring in the search results and rankings, especially compared to their competitors.
  5. Check on domain + page authority – How well is the site trusted by the SEs? The higher the authority, the more often it will appear in the SERP. I’ll use Moz Open Site Explorer for this.
  6. Check bounce rates
  7. Look for incoming links

This information provides the basis of the SEO analysis, but there’s still more to do.  I’m running late this morning so the rest of this post will have to wait.


SEO: The Basics

SEO: Introduction

The keys to successful SEO efforts are research, planning, and patience. SEO strategy is a moving target in which available information and goals are continuously evolving. This is a long-term process that produces long-term value.

The basic steps for SEO implementation include

  • Developing a strategy
  • Researching keywords
  • Creating content
  • Building links
  • Resolving technical issues

In addition, successful SEO requires optimizing for two audiences: real people and search engines. Of the two, the priority generally be optimizing for real people, because search engines are continually improving their ability to read and process text in the same way humans do. Of course, a balance must be struck between the technical and creative aspects of SEO so that both audiences find your content accessible and useful.



Holiday Photos

It’s been a busy weekend, and I haven’t had much time for writing for the past few days. Three days in Ohio, a day out hiking in Milwaukee, and a ton of things to get caught up on now that I’m back.

I did get some great shots while I was out, so here are a few new photos for the collection.

Why I Refer to Myself As a “Language Geek”

The Challenge

During a recent conversation, a friend of mine challenged me: Why do you refer to yourself as a language geek? A fair enough question, and one I’m happy to answer.

To do so, I’d like to work backwards, perhaps, from more specific to general qualifications.

Close Reading

Jane Gallop is the Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she was my instructor. In her class, I learned a technique called “close reading,” which focuses on the words, syntax, grammar, and the idiosyncrasies of a particular text. Close reading requires microanalysis of word choice, punctuation, and vocabulary, in an effort to more thoroughly understand the work and sometimes its author. It’s about as obsessive about language as you can get.

Snapshot of example text
Snapshot of the text in my copy of “The Psychic Life of Power” by Judith Butler.

Studies in Literature and Cultural Theory.

An MA in English? Big deal. Actually, yes, with regard to SEO and content creation, it’s a very big deal. Graduate programs in the humanities demand the analysis and synthesis of complex information, in an effort to understand humans.

The themes, strategies, and styles that I’ve studied (not to mention the content) allow me a keen insight into what makes people tick. Want to motive a person to perform a desired action, even one as simple as clicking on a link? You’d better have a good understanding of how language, thoughts, and words affect people. After all, language is the building block of culture, society, and reality.

Studies in Marketing

Finally, I decided to return to school a few years ago to pursue a degree in business. Much of my program was centered upon marketing, in particular, how to a) create compelling stories to connect with potential customers and b) how to develop content that establishes your brand as an authority.

Fascination with SEO

During my marketing studies, I became mesmerized by SEO strategies, so I decided that this would be a focus of my learning. How are people using words to access information? What are the most popular terms? Where are the long tail opportunities? What can research tools and data reveal about search behavior? 

A Lifelong Obsession with Words

I read my first real novel at the age of 8, when I discovered The Hobbit, but my parents and grandparents had been reading to me since I was born. I became a voracious reader, taking in anything I could get my hands on. My love of literature became a love of communication and teaching, and there begins the trajectory of my professional career.

I spend a great deal of time thinking about words. About their meanings, their histories, and their value. Why this word and not another? How does this word relate to the words that precede or follow it? Doe this word have different meanings in different cultural contexts? Is there room for misinterpretation or ambiguity? All important to me.

So Those Are My Qualifications

Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below. Cheers!