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A small business can’t possibly compete online with the Kogan’s of this world, right?

Wrong – so long as you pick your battles.

Armed with keyword search tools and your own, shrewd judgment, you can stake out your own small, lucrative territory in the Googleverse by optimizing for ‘long-tail’ SEO.

And an effective way to do this is by producing high-quality content that answers the questions Google users are asking – whether that’s articles, videos, infographics and so on.

So what are ‘long-tail’ terms?

Usually, one or two words long with huge monthly search volumes, ‘head’ keywords tend to be dominated by the biggest companies. Long-tail keywords, which often involve more words with lower search volumes, represent a more realistic route onto page one of Google search results for small businesses.

So while yes, retail powerhouse The Iconic is number one for ‘buy clothes’, the rather less famous Rusty Zipper tops search results for ‘buy 1970s retro fashion’.

There should be three parts to your SEO strategy, with the final part informing the first step in the next cycle.

SEO. Google analytics. Analyti

1. Planning

First, you need to decide which long-tail terms to target.

You can’t do everything so you need to target, say, 10-20 keywords with a reasonable balance between monthly search volume (the higher the better) and competition (lower the better). The lower your domain authority, the harder it is to compete, and the more this balance should tip towards less competitive terms with lower search volumes. Google AdWords still has the definitive keyword tool – no surprise given Google is privy to all data driving its search results. Enter the most obvious term for your product or service to generate a list of alternatives.  AnswerthePublic is another free tool that generates related questions to your keyword – the hows, whys, whats, and when (e.g. for books: ‘Why books are better than movies’ or ‘which books should I read’).

Enter any promising questions into Google Keywords to see how they score. Question-based keyword phrases are becoming more important with the rise of Siri: people speak in sentences but typed searches tend to be 1-3 words long.

Other useful keyword tools include:

* Google Suggest

* SEMrush

* Moz Pro

* Keyword Tool

* SpyFu

* UberSuggest

* Google Trends

Once you have a shortlist of promising terms, it’s time to find flaws in the competition.

Open an incognito browser (it’s called InPrivate if you’re using Internet Explorer and not Google Chrome) – because its searches are unprejudiced by previous search activity – and click on the top five pieces of content in the search results, one by one.

When were they published? Google likes fresh content.

Though some publishers periodically update content, some content will obviously be out of date.

What is their domain authority? (Check this with the free toolbar) Is it badly written with long sentences? Does the page take a long time to load? (You can get specific load results with Google’s free PageSpeed tools)

User experience becomes more important with each Google algorithmic update. If you can produce something that beats the top five on all these points you can be confident of eventually reaching the top five search results – which account for more than two-thirds of all clicks.

2. Execute

As well as creating new articles you can refresh promising archive pages. Use Google or Adobe Analytics to find out which historic articles get the most traffic.

Updating them with the latest information or optimizing their keywords and otherSEO components is a much quicker way to boost traffic than writing fresh content.

Build a hub page – a definitive guide to the topic – for your long-tail term. Then link to and from subsequent articles on this topic. HubSpot does this brilliantly with, ironically, the term ‘SEO’. Think of the hub page as the hub on a bike wheel and the spokes as related articles.

Subheaders should answer the reader’s main questions on this subject but still include the focus keyword. So subheaders for a hub page on 1970s prog rock could be: ‘a history of prog rock’, ‘prog rock bands’, ‘decline of prog rock’ and so on. AnswerthePublic is a useful tool here.

And periodically update your hub page – as we said before, Google likes up-to-date content. ‘Evergreen’ content, which means it remains relevant and up to date for longer, is easier to maintain (e.g., ‘1970s fashions’ is highly evergreen; ‘popular smartphones’ would need frequent updates).

Some tips for on-page SEO:

* Is your headline interesting? Does it offer an unexpected solution (‘How to look good on a budget’)? Is it provocative? (‘Why it’s time to ditch give up on diets’)

* Focus keyword: ideally at beginning of headline and URL slug – although this is becoming less important as Google becomes more sensitive to linguistic nuance

* Meta description appears under the headline in Google search results. Its purpose is to entice people to click rather than determining Google rank

* Image file name and image alt text: prosaic, descriptive (so a picture of Nike Gazelle trainers? Simply: ‘Nike Gazelle trainers’)

* Include periodic contextual links – to relevant articles on your site but also externally. Ask yourself: is this link helping the user find the information they need?

* Link to the most authoritative related page on your site (see hub posts above)

* Use bullets and subheads (like we are here!)

* Short sentences and paragraphs. Don’t be too hung up on this. Google probably ascertains the average sentence length. If it’s good, clean copy for a print magazine it’s probably good, clean copy for Google too

* Word count: 400 minimum is a good rule of thumb

* Use images, tweets, gifs, videos and so on for variety. Google increasingly analyses dwell time and bounce rates. Infogrames, Apester, and Thinglink are great tools for charts, infographics, and other visuals

* Include CTAs for social sharing – so people can tweet, share on Facebook and LinkedIn (social shares influence SEO) Moz On-Page Grader will offer clues on how well optimized your page is – through its advice is imperfect, so take as a guide, not as the gospel.

Get relevant, high value links to your piece of content by asking people or brands quoted or mentioned in your article to link to it from their press section or elsewhere on their site.

If you source guest posts from external writers, offer them suggestions that cover keywords that benefit you as well as matching their own expertise.

3. Monitor

Put aside some time, say, once a month to gauge the success of your strategy using analytics software – and Adobe Analytics is arguably the best out there, though it can be pricey. Google offers rather comprehensive software for zero cost.

Among other invaluable metrics over any period you specify Adobe Analytics tells you:

* Percentage of visits from search

* Number of unique users

* Dwell time of articles

You can also compare your key metrics – share of traffic from search, from social and different countries, among others – to those of your competitors on SimilarWeb.

Moz Pro is also invaluable – for page maintenance, determining whether you are climbing or descending Google rankings for your target terms and how well optimized your backlinks are.

Finally, the higher you climb on Google the harder it gets to climb further still. It can take 6-12 months to really reap the dividends of your strategy – so be patient, and stay positive.

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Being an innovative-minded CEO means to be able to always explore the new technological trends. If You`re a type of this, You will win the competition. Discover how to be an innovative-minded CEO with us.

While scanning recent business headlines, innovation-minded CEOs may well feel as if the ground is shifting beneath their feet yet again. From General Motors’ announcement of the upcoming closure of five North American plants—in part mirroring an evolution in consumer demand toward more technologically advanced vehicles—to Apple’s recent iPhone woes, it is clearer than ever that staying profitable while pursuing innovation remains a daunting challenge.

Innovative CEO. A businessman with smartphone. Handsome businessman

From my own experiences as CEO of a company developing an alternative battery technology that could help advance the burgeoning electric and autonomous vehicle market, several insights have proven valuable:

Quick, nimble and entrepreneurial-minded is crucial. Even if your company is big, it pays to think like a startup. For example, there are plenty of large battery companies that could be rethinking the current lithium-ion standard for electric vehicle batteries, which have proven disadvantageous for several reasons relating to recharge time, safety and recyclability. But they have not done so, in part because the entrepreneurial infrastructure is lacking within many big corporations.

Eliminating this kind of inertia is crucial to survival for companies across many sectors grappling with technologies that are evolving rapidly. Innovative-minded CEOs in the tech space may be inspired to look at what is happening at the cutting edge of their own space and decide that innovation must supersede traditional work patterns. Large manufacturers like GM may be learning this the hard way as consumer tastes change, and where markets have yet to come to their full fruition. Meanwhile, CEOs of smaller companies may have more leeway to focus their teams’ efforts on transformative technology.

Tomorrow will be nothing at all like today. Due to the coming era of autonomous and electric vehicles, my newborn grandson may never need to learn to drive. He may never own a car. He may never ride in anything that is not propelled by electricity. In short, his world may be totally different from the one in which we’ve all grown up. This is a key realization for CEOs grappling with the innovation that is sweeping their respective sectors: it is wise to prepare for a radically transformed world.

A businessman with smartphone, mobile. Innovative businessman. A handsome man with suit

Keep in mind that the first iPhone was introduced only 12 years ago—and how the smartphone era has changed how we work and interact with each other. Once-dominant brands like Nokia have lost out while other more nimble players have stepped in to take their place. It stands to reason that similar changes are due to sweep the automotive industry as electric vehicle technology reduces its costs and continues to be refined. Forget what you know! Embrace and develop new ideas!

Expect new competitors you’ve never heard of—and others you already know. The advent of disruptive technologies won’t just reshuffle who’s on top among existing companies; they allow new entrants to come into the market as well. For automotive industry CEOs attuned to the incipient electric vehicle revolution, this means paying less attention to what Elon Musk and Tesla are doing today and paying more attention to brands that are currently active in regions of the world such as China and India yet largely unknown in the West. Because their current markets are so large, they have not yet had to sell vehicles outside their own territory—but that is likely to change, and when it does, expect their products to be sold at significantly lower prices. At the same time, some very familiar names—like Apple and Google—may also decide the time is right to venture into the electric and autonomous vehicle space, and when they do, their clout will shake up the field further.

Innovation appeals to all ages. Some CEOs in the automotive space, looking at the incipient electric and autonomous vehicle revolution, might be tempted to market their future wares primarily to younger consumers. And it is true that for young people challenged by the cost of insurance and other factors, reasonably priced electric vehicles will offer great appeal. The era in which people stay loyal to one particular brand, in the automotive sector as in every other sector currently being impacted by waves of technological innovation, is drawing to a close. But it is also true that a world in which electric and autonomous vehicles are commonplace will appeal to older segments of the population. Imagine, for example, how retirement communities could be transformed once its residents are capable of traveling to their destinations via autonomous vehicle. Similarly, future population shifts into urban centers are likely to open up new markets for innovative vehicle technology that offer an attractive alternative to current transit options.

Attention to these four precepts may help CEOs in any sector navigate what is shaping up to be a turbulent and uncertain era—one in which disruptive technologies can either propel a business forward or help sink it.

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