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Abishek GM

From Excel spreadsheet to $5B IPO

By | Business Ideas, seo advice for business

NerdWallet: From Excel spreadsheet to $5B IPO

In 2008, Tim Chen was working for a New York hedge fund when the financial crisis hit. Like thousands of Wall Streeters, he was laid off.
This career turmoil planted the seed for NerdWallet (co-founded with Jake Gibson), the personal finance website that recently filed for a potential $5B IPO, per PitchBook.

As the founding story goes…

… Chen was newly unemployed when his sister — living in Australia — asked him for advice on what credit card had the lowest foreign exchange fees.
According to CNBC, Chen was unable to find a good answer on Google and ended up creating an Excel spreadsheet of credit card options.
The document he sent his sister went viral and Chen realized there was a “real shopability problem in financial services.” To build a solution, he plopped down $800 for web hosting and domain fees.

NerdWallet started with credit card comparisons

But it expanded into other financial services and has hired hundreds of writers over the years (our editor Brad Wolverton previously worked there).
Success was a long road: sales over the 1st 2 years totaled -$60k. Today, NerdWallet is on a $360m+ annual run rate, with the bulk of its revenue coming from affiliate fees via finance firms featured on the site.

The secret sauce: SEO

NerdWallet’s website receives 20m+ visitors a month, with 80%+ of that traffic via organic search (not paid), per Similarweb. Among its keys to ranking high in search:

  • Free finance tools (e.g., mortgage calculators)
  • Industry awards (featured on other sites)
  • Content syndication (e.g., AP and Forbes)

To get to this point, Chen bootstrapped operations in the early days. Now, with a -60% stake in NerdWallet, those lean years will pay off very well.

Videocast #1 – We talk about the first CRM geared towards small business

By | Digital Marketing Podcast

 

All right, what’s up guys?
So this is our second podcast and I have here Shira with V sita and they’re actually a new partner and we’ll actually be uh will be offering this service, it’s still not fully integrated on our website, but this is going to be a new service that we’re going to offer small businesses and it’s called the Crm tool.
Actually call it the small business all in one management tool and uh it’s an amazing tool and I invited Shira on our second podcast here to talk a little bit more about it.
She is one of the partners that is helping us integrated and she’s also a partner special is correct on uh Oh fantastic.
And um so sure, why don’t you tell us a little bit about this era and how you know, visited a started, I know this company is based in Israel, so that was kind of a shock to me.
I I thought you guys were for some reason based in like new york already or something like that, but uh and I actually got a hold of Rosita through a different partner of your that’s also working with you guys.
So tell us a little bit about CAsita, like how it works and you know what exactly um you know what is Vusi to?
Yeah, for sure. So thanks for having me here. Um So I’ll tell you a little bit about B. C. That B. C.
Doesn’t all in one business school for small businesses. Um We’re really the all in one solution.
So whether it’s, you know, um Whether it’s small medium or growing businesses, I would say that have users of anywhere from 0 to 30 accounts.
They utilize the CNN in order to help them grow. So what does it mean?
Like who are really, who am I talking about now? So the seat is the best for service based businesses, anyone who’s, you know, scheduling appointments, who needs automated campaigns, marketing campaigns, they want to keep track of their clients and so forth.
Um You know, a lot of small businesses, what they run into today is they can provide a service but they don’t know how to really organize your business and stay on top of things and save time and everyone knows time is money.
NBC does all about that. Right? So they see that really is the solution to kind of kind of boost help small businesses boost their revenue. Yeah. And how did this, how did this idea start? How did the c to start actually? Um how old is Sposito by the way, Be serious?
About 10 years, a little bit over 10 years old. We have about 1.4 million users from all over the world. We also have you seen in 10 different languages, it started as a scheduling tool.
So the scheduling part of this era is actually the most incredible tool that, you know, it’s been developed for years and years and years and as they grew, they had autos, you know, like the crm in marketing side of things acclaimed portal.
We basically slowly began to understand what small businesses need and then we kind of you know provide them with the solution. Great, great, great. And you know it’s a very unique solution because I know I’m familiar with other platforms such as like Zendesk and um and what else?
Uh what? So it’s like a big crm um for sales, it’s sales sales former.
I mean there’s so many Crm and it seems like all these Crm tools are geared more towards like enterprise or very corporate side. This it’s and what I honestly what caught my attention with CAsita is that it’s geared towards small businesses like which is very incredible.
I mean the platform, the back end is extremely simple to understand.
I mean I’ve I’ve used Salesforce before and like there’s so many modules, there’s so many things, it’s like very cumbersome, you know, to to actually use for a small business which I know small business is never going to use a Crm like that.
So essentially what the CIA is offering is like, it’s pretty much like the first Crm for small businesses, right?
Because I mean I’ve never actually encountered any Crm that’s geared towards small businesses. It’s the first time.
So um yeah, I think I think that I’m not sure if it’s the first to be honest.
I don’t know like exactly. I don’t have that data but I do know that I think it’s one of the best.
I mean, it’s not just that, it’s also, you know, small businesses have a few different tools that they need.
What ends up happening is the end of using six different tools.
They pay for six different companies when they really need one tool, everything in one place, an integrated solution instead of rounding logging in and out of different accounts.
And that’s really what we see that provides. Exactly, yeah.
And I mean, um I mean one big problem that we’re running into, that’s the reason why we networking biz uh partnered up with casita is because we have a lot of clients that are getting all kinds of contacts on their email.
And how are they actually, how are they actually managing all these contacts?
Well, they’re just writing them down on sticky notes or like remembering, oh, I got a call this person or I gotta call this, you know, So it’s a lot of these small businesses like um you know, what I understood is that it’s kind of like a uh like whoever runs the sales, it’s like more of like a mom and pop situation where they’re like kind of just like jotting things down on a board or doing certain little things, but a lot of them are wanting to break through into uh into the next kind of stage, right?
And um I feel like the cita offers that to businesses, it really allows them to to integrate their sales and be able to manage like the you know the follow ups, the the automation you know the emails, marketing, everything all in one.
So um you know that’s what really caught my attention.
Um And um can you tell me like what type of businesses of the CDA usually um what’s what’s a good business that that that would would would find your your software helpful?
Yeah sure. So we work with thousands of industries to be honest with you.
I’m always surprised by the businesses that come in um have to be you know sometimes you know we’ve had waffle houses and ice skating rinks and but I would say the top 10 industries are really um business consultants, um construction, home service businesses, lawyers, credit repair, um marketing agencies.
Um I. T. Companies really anyone who’s offering a service, anyone who wants to keep track of their clients exactly as you said you know when you have these clients all over an excel sheets and what happens if they’re deleted from our data?
You know if the cost of generating a new client is four times the price of keeping an old fund for those types of businesses. So you can simply save the money by paying let’s say you know whatever the cost is. X.
Amount a month like 50 to $100 a month.
You know to keep those clients keep them engaged and automate the process so you don’t actually have to remind them about upcoming meetings.
They have the automated reminders so you can have automated campaigns going out um and so forth.
Exactly like for example like us, I think I told you last week or two weeks ago we actually did some videos.
So now what we’re doing is based on the type of appointment that someone schedules.
They get an automated follow up right? Such as like you know this is what to do and this is what to prepare for before the meeting and please watch this video.
So we’re integrating that and um I know a lot of there’s a lot of useful tools as well that are integrated.
Like I myself, I’m still trying to find and learn about this whole ecosystem but um you know for example like the intake intake forms as well, all that on the website.
Right? Integration with the website. Exactly.
That’s extremely, you know, so what essentially what businesses can do is they can tailor an intake form based on the type of booking that someone does.
So you can ask different questions based on the booking. Right?
And um so why don’t you tell me a little bit of like the special features of the Ceta because I would like to kind of show are our audience like what what this, it actually does and I know you pulled up a demo account.
Right? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, I can share my screen.
Yeah go ahead and pull it up.
I’m going to actually pull up your website as well as an example, Is that okay with you? Yeah. Okay.
So I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m going to share my screen with you by so we’re here and lose website and never give this dot com and I integrated what I did.
I just pulled up a demo account as a widget on your website.
So this is fully, you know, this is a B C.
That the switch it over here, it’s pulled up on the website and that’s what this means is that is a if a user comes to your website, you know, you can have an amazing website, but if you don’t have a source for lead generation, it’s going to be really hard to get new clients exactly.
When I come over here, I’m able to browse, I can go to different pages.
This widget stays with me no matter what page I’m on.
So when I’m ready I say ok, this looks like a legit business. I want to schedule a meeting.
I can go ahead and I can click on that schedule button and as a user visit as a business owner with the VCD tool, you can completely customize the services if it’s according to location, look, you know, depending on or depending the types of services you offer and then you can have a list of services, you can have a description of what each service offers and even if you want to have the price, they can literally pay on the spot, if it’s a nail salon or something like that, you can have the price here and we integrate with Paypal square and stripe and they can literally pay for it right here. Fantastic. Why is that so important Because nowadays with payments, first of all they can book a meeting, people don’t show up to lose money like, you know, this is a way to guarantee people are coming to the meeting and let’s say someone’s in a mood to buy something, you have to have that available.
You know what I’m saying? Like the day of 2021 when somebody is ready to buy their ready by give them the opportunity.
Exactly, exactly. No, that’s a very, that’s a very unique feature.
I mean, I know a ton of businesses that, that definitely needs something like this, but for whatever reason they don’t have it and you know, because of covid um 20 and 2020 there was, there’s been an acceleration of all these digital services that allow you to kind of automate things, a lot of automate processes of the, of businesses and um, you know, I’ve seen an acceleration um, of more um, uh, complex websites, right that allow you to do more like such as a scheduling for example or, you know, being able to, I know that this also has like a pack, you can sell packages on it.
Yeah packages. So you could offer a schedule and also a package like and and there’s so many businesses that that that utilize something like this and I know for a fact that um there’s a lot of businesses using like outside tools like um like what is it, the event lee or the um it’s like an events thing where you can sell like packages and all that, but then it takes you away from the website, you know, so visit allows you to just kind of have everything within one specific within your website experience.
Exactly, yeah. Yeah, this is, this is extremely neat and what what, when I see that you can also have different um you can also have like different locations, right? So this for like yeah, you can have for multi location, multi franchise things like that for growth as well.
So what are you thinking? Just go ahead.
So just taking them through the flow, you know, they can book a time for example that, you know, if that goes to the service provider and then they can completely change these questions right to suit this type of service and their booking, it was a nail salon and be like what type of nail do you want or what kind of highlights do you want if it’s here um and so forth.
And then they can book it here and it goes to both of their emails, both of their calendars and then there’s the reminders coming up before the next meeting right to make sure that nobody misses that meeting Just to take you through the whole like scheduling.
Yeah. And how does Vusi to remind customers? They reach out to them via multiple channels? Right?
Like texting and email and text, you know all that.
Yeah but imagine like in a dentist office people are always late to the dentist, they always forget about those types of things.
But if you get a text reminder an hour before day before and then 15 minutes before you’re reducing the chance of them to show up late or not at all the appointments.
Exactly yeah so this is uh I would I wouldn’t even call this A. C. R.
And it’s more like a business optimization system. You know it’s like it optimizes your business.
So you reduce um you know like the you know you reduce the failure the appointment failure rate.
Uh you know you’re confirming appointments automatically instead of having somebody called back and forth all that back and forth.
Exactly, exactly. And so I’m sure a lot of businesses would see the um you know all the value in this and the potential that it has to automate a lot of processes of the of the business.
And um so tell me I know that visit to the new feature was like the um what was it? It was like a like a client portal or something like that.
So we also have here, I’ll quickly show it’s a good point we have, I’ll show a few features and like what they do.
So for example for this specific one this is like, you know, this is just my email all to it as a demo. Yeah. Um what happens here is this is the client portal.
So what’s going to happen is I’m going to get a text actually. This is super hipaa compliant and GPR compliance. So it’s very secure.
So I just got a text my phone with the wagen and the the typical clients would be for like the medical companies like chiropractors or, Or dentists.
Exactly. Also like, you know, it’s also really important for like, you know, consultants and psychiatrists and things like that as well. Um 100%. So from here I can actually say this is an app on my phone as an end consumer and then I can have 100% 24 7 communication with the business.
I can send the messages, I can schedule appointments, I can make payments to here. I can upload like a contract or a logo for a website on here.
Anything that sort um I can even give them a business review like what’s so important in today’s day for a lot of small businesses is like I’m going to google you, I’m going to see what story you have, you know, things like that and you can get a link like write me on facebook, you know what I’m saying.
Oh yeah and that’s extremely important for S Ceo as well.
I mean you know for so networking bits has a core product which is local S Ceo and reviews is a big important feature that we offer.
Um and this is a very very helpful tool because um we mostly focused on google reviews but this one focus on focuses on facebook reviews which is fantastic too as well.
Um there can be a link by the way, you can also add us on google and you can add a link here.
Yeah and then I see you have like terms of service there, you have um um you know the like like a chat so you can talk to people.
Yeah it’s complete, this is customizable.
So whatever buttons you foreigner by the way, the whole logo, the text, everything here is just a great right?
So you’re you’re creating you’re creating a small client. Porto the whole you know payment information or payment history. Yeah history, everything, not just that, but imagine how much clients get confused.
Oh you didn’t send me this, you didn’t do this. Well actually they can just go in the portal and see, you know it’s not like an email communication and so forth.
Exactly yeah I mean in this day and age like everyone has a portal now.
So yeah your small business also has a portal especially if you have customers that are constantly using uh your business and um not only that, it probably makes you look way more professional.
Right? 100%. If you have a port 100% we’ll just send me everything via email and then I’ll have to sift through 1000 emails, you know, for your documents and your and everything, you know, it’s instead just upload the document, log into your portal.
Upload the documents that we need, schedule of purchase or manage your bookings. Right? That’s fantastic. Yeah.
Were there any other I can, yeah, I kind of want to show us a little bit.
Yeah, let’s go over here is the dashboard. Okay. So over here is kind of like the overview of the full business.
I see how many payments are coming in campaigns. What’s going on in my business essentially, like where else can you get this? You know, this is your business dashboard and you can have, if you add, you know, team members and so forth.
You can see essentially what’s going on your business here, you have the inbox where everything, you know, all new incoming appointments, title class, everything’s coming in through here.
Follow up the calendar in case somebody calls you and wants you to manually schedule it or so forth.
You can actually manage your entire team on here.
See what bookings they have, Keep track of sales processes on here as well.
And I want to add also that anything that comes from your website forms go straight to the inbox here. So you can actually, instead of you having to sit through your all your emails, I know everyone gets lots of junk nowadays um and spam, you know, I get hit up with like like 100 spam emails every day, you know, so you don’t want to sift through all that, all your customers will be here and you can easily just get back to your customers and the system will remind you to also to also email your customers back exactly using.
You’re not just that actually it’s a really good point but if they sign up through the website, they become a customer in here.
So you already have their information. It’s already in your serum. You don’t need to manually exactly. Which is fantastic.
You don’t have to be writing it down like it’s very automated. So That’s great. That’s great. Yeah. And then just going, yeah this calendar, it also syncs with your google calendar as well. Right. Exactly. Exactly.
So if you’re busy, if you have a lunch or you have a doctor’s appointment, it will show up here. Nobody can schedule with you at that time completely sink and then you choose the days and times you’re available and then people can only book with you at those times. Fantastic. That’s great. So going into like, you know just an appointment, I’ll give you just a quick view like over here you have the appointment, you have information about the appointment.
And then on the right side you have information about the client. So I can click on that client. I have a full history of every conversation. I have that client all the notes, you know taking notes on that client beforehand.
So I can come ready to the next appointment booking side of payments in here. I can see exactly what I have gone from them if they owe me money.
By the way money is a huge one people don’t usually want to deal with.
They don’t want to remind clients to give them the system. Does that automatically? Right? It’s an overdue payment.
They’ll send out a notification. That’s great. Um Yeah and this is customizable. Right? So you can customize like what information is, you know you want to have on facts on file here.
You can save their credit card information and have ongoing charges with the client through the system. Um And then there’s like a ton of really easy actions. You can charge a card.
You can invite them to a client portal. You can invite them to schedule a meeting.
You can send them a document contract so forth.
Like I could go on and on. I’ll stop here.
But that’s yeah this is essentially the client card.
Right? Yeah exactly.
All the information on the client and I mean this is just any small business that sees this would obviously like right away You know, they’ll they’ll understand the value that this brings.
You know because um that’s one big problem with small businesses is uh you know they have the clients kind of all over the place.
A lot of them are like um I have a I have a client who I’m trying to I’m trying to pitch this to and there um you know they I asked them so where do you save all your your clients uh your client information?
I said oh well I have it in a notebook and I also have some of it in my brain and I have some of it in my email so it’s kind of all over the place. So I think so the question is what is it costing them, what is that costing them?
What does that notebook, how much money is that worth? What I’m saying what’s costing time which is money, you know and nowadays I think especially like uh there’s a quote by Warren Warren buffet he said well I could buy anything I want but I, you know, I can’t purchase time. So time is more valuable than money when you think, you know and um so yeah that that’s um that’s that’s a good that’s a good point.
Um Now is there anything else that you want to show us that skull?
Yeah I’ll show you really quickly the mark, we have the documents, payments.
We actually just launched the reports, which is amazing. It basically gives you reports on every staff member.
How many meetings they built thomas money, they brought in appointments, clients like the complete reporting tool, which is amazing.
I don’t want to go through it now because I know we’re short on time but I’ll show you just we have two different types of marketing is to be the automatic campaigns and the announcements.
The automated campaigns are based on triggers in the system. All of our emails come with templates.
Do you have a full library of templates for small businesses who don’t have time to read content? You know what I mean? So they can utilize the image, you know, it’s some text Um call to action and you know an image.
And so this can be, you know, somebody has in fact within the last 90 days you can check in on them. That can be automated. You don’t have to even, you don’t have to do anything.
They just get an automatic email. Exactly. That’s awesome. And these are sort of like drip campaigns right?
Where if a new client lands on, you know, on our clients list then they get that’s a trigger and it sends out an email automatically like a welcome email for example.
Or it could be uh they do a certain type of action on your website and it triggers, it triggers this automated campaign. That’s awesome. Yeah. Like maybe a birthday campaign with a link to a coupon to use your services?
Happy birthday 20% off. Yeah. And then we have, what’s that? That’s a ton of value already.
I mean, think about when you think about how much mail chimp or you know, or constant contact or claudio, any of these charge per, per per month, you know, and they just, they’re pretty much just trigger campaigns or email marketing campaigns.
And the problem is you have to keep importing new clients to their, you know, if you have to keep adding new clients, it’s not you’re not keeping track of everything and of course you have the data to so you have, how many have opened?
This is a demo council. There’s tons of examples here, but you can see how many people have opened it, how many people has been sent to, you know, if they’ve engaged with it and so forth as well.
Oh yeah, that’s great. Yeah. So that’s kind of a high level overview.
Yeah, it’s a very high level because there’s so many other features that the system has that we didn’t even go over.
I didn’t even I don’t think I’ve ever seen the reporting tab that’s like, that’s like really, really new, right?
It’s very new. It’s just recently launched. That’s something that’s coming coming in the pipeline. And um so how how have you guys seen, you know, have you guys seen an increase in business and also in people and businesses using the software because of the pandemic because of this new digital landscape.
Like do you think that more businesses are utilizing this now more than ever. 100. 100%.
Um You know, it’s been it’s been like, you know, it’s been a really hard few years for a lot of people from the CIA, we’ve seen a huge increase because everyone needs to get online.
They need to, everyone wants to digitalize our businesses. People need to find you online, Everything is done online.
You know, we have an integration with zoom zoom meetings um and the online payments and people don’t want to be using cash as much are going in person to pay.
And so I think it’s really been a value for small business. Yeah, that’s awesome.
And I know you can’t talk about a lot of new features with rosita, but last question is like, what are some of the features uh coming in like the new features that you guys are unveiling or?
So I can’t yeah, I can’t get into it too much. But I can’t say there’s really exciting features coming up in the next few months.
We’ve really invested a lot in the features. There’s always feature releases based on what clients are fussing and so forth and what we see the need for.
Um But I can’t see in the next month there are very, very exciting releases to be determined. So I hope it’s recurring payments. That’s not great.
That I can see that by the end of the next few weeks will be released. Oh, nice, nice.
Yes, I share a well, we’re about ending our second podcast.
Thank you so much for being a part of this and thank you for sharing this awesome tool with us and uh yeah, good luck with your flight.
I know you’re going to, you’re going moving to new york from Israel.
Yes, that’s a big yes I am, thank you.
And I would just like to say if anyone hearing this is interested, they can come to you, right, you have this solution, you’re offering it as a partner.
So I think that would uh yeah, and if you want anyone in the podcast, I mean this is obviously um meant to inform businesses and business owners, but if anyone is interested um we do have, we do have a link that we’re gonna put somewhere in this around this video where you can get a demo and we can install it on your website and then we can talk about everything else or you can sign up uh to start using this amazing tool for your business.
So anyways, well thank you so much for your time. Thanks for having me.
And um and yeah, we look forward to to seeing what you’re going to work on next.
All right, thank you so much. Thank you, she ra appreciate it. Take care. Bye bye bye.

Thank you guys for tuning in.
We’ll actually be recording a new podcast every single week with awesome um Tech entrepreneurs will be uploading this on Youtube on our instagram on pretty much everywhere.
So I want you guys to tune in every single week.
This will also be on our blog on networkingbizz.com and then we also plan on hopefully starting a stream on on Youtube and also on another other platforms.
So stay tuned guys, there’s a lot of new exciting things.
This is only the beginning and thank you guys for tuning in.
I am louis de luna with networking business and I am out.

SEO Crawling

SEO Crawling Tool Warnings & Errors You Can Safely Ignore

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

SEO crawlers are indispensable tools but they need an SEO pro’s insight and experience to determine which warnings to heed or ignore.

In many cases, what an SEO crawler marks as a fatal error needs immediate attention – but sometimes, it’s not an error at all.

This can happen even with the most popular SEO crawling tools such as Semrush Site Audit, Ahrefs Site Audit, Sitebulb, and Screaming Frog.

How can you tell the difference to avoid prioritizing a fix that doesn’t need to be done?

Here are a few real-life examples of such warnings and errors together, with explanations as to why they may be an issue for your website.

1. Indexability Issues (Noindex Pages on the Site)

Any SEO crawler will highlight and warn you about non-indexable pages on the site. Depending on the crawler type, noindex pages can be marked as warnings, errors, or insights.

The Google Search Console Coverage report may also mark non-indexable pages as Errors (if the site has non-indexable pages in the sitemap submitted) or Excluded even though they are not actual issues.

The fact that a URL has a “noindex” tag on it does not necessarily mean that this is an error. It only means that the page cannot be indexed by Google and other search engines.

The “noindex” tag is one of two possible directives for crawlers, the other one being to index the page.

Practically every website contains URLs that should not be indexed by Google.

These may include, for example, tag pages (and sometimes category pages as well), login pages, password reset pages, or a thank you page.

Your task, as an SEO professional, is to review noindex pages on the site and decide whether they indeed should be blocked from indexing or whether the “noindex” tag could have been added by accident.

2. Meta Description Too Short or Empty

SEO crawlers will also check the meta elements of the site, including meta description elements. If the site does not have meta descriptions or they are too short (usually below 110 characters), then the crawler will mark it as an issue.

Depending on the size of the site, it is not always possible and/or doable to create unique meta descriptions for all its webpages. You may not need them, either.

A good example of a site where it may not make sense is a huge ecommerce site with millions of URLs.

In fact, the bigger the site is, the less important this element gets.

The content of the meta description element, in contrast to the content of the title tag, is not taken into account by Google and does not influence rankings.

Search snippets sometimes use the meta description but are often rewritten by Google.

What you as an SEO need to do is keep in mind that each site is different. Use your common SEO sense when deciding whether meta descriptions are indeed an issue for that specific website, or that you can safely ignore the warning.

3. Meta Keywords Missing

Meta keywords were used 20+ years ago as a way to indicate to search engines such as Altavista what key phrases a given URL wanted to rank for.

This was, however, heavily abused. Meta keywords were a sort of a “spam magnet,” so the majority of search engines dropped support for this element.

Screaming Frog always checks if there are meta keywords on the site, by default.

Since this is an obsolete SEO element, 99% of sites do not use meta keywords anymore.

New SEO pros or clients may get confused thinking that if a crawler marks something as missing, then this element should actually be added to the site. But that’s not the case here!

If meta keywords are missing on the site you are auditing, it’s a waste to recommend adding them.

4. Images Over 100 KB

It’s important to optimize and compress images used on the site so that a gigantic PNG logo that weighs 10 MB does not need to be loaded on every webpage.

However, it’s not always possible to compress all images to below 100 KB.

The fact that the site has images that are over 100 KB does not necessarily mean that the site has issues with image optimization or is very slow.

When you see this error, make sure to check the overall site’s speed and performance in Google PageSpeed Insights and the Google Search Console Core Web Vitals report.

If the site is doing okay and passes the Core Web Vitals assessment, then usually there is no need to compress the images further.

Tip: What you may do with this Screaming Frog report is sort the images by size from the heaviest to the lightest to check if there are some really huge images on specific webpages.

5. Low Content or Low Word Count Pages

Depending on the settings of the SEO crawler, most SEO auditing tools will highlight pages that are below 50-100 words as low content pages.

Screaming Frog, on the other hand, considers pages below 200 words to be low content pages by default (you can change that setting upon configuring the crawl).

Just because a webpage has few words does not mean that it is an issue or error.

There are many types of pages that are meant to have a low word count, including some login pages, password reset pages, tag pages, or a contact page.

The crawler will mark these pages as low content but this is not an issue that will prevent the site from ranking well in Google.

What the tool is trying to tell you is that if you want a given webpage to rank highly in Google and bring a lot of organic traffic, then this webpage may need to be quite detailed and in-depth.

This often includes, among others, a high word count. But there are different types of search intents and the content depth is not always what users are looking for to satisfy their needs.

When reviewing low word count pages flagged by the crawler, always think about whether these pages are really meant to have a lot of content. In many cases, they are not.

6. Low HTML-Text Ratio

Semrush Site Audit will also alert you about the pages that have a low text-HTML ratio.

This alert is supposed to show you:

  • Pages that may have a low word count.
  • Pages that are potentially built in a complex way and have a huge HTML code file.

This warning often confuses less experienced or new SEO professionals, and you may need an experienced technical SEO pro to determine whether it’s something to worry about.

There are many variables that can affect the HTML-text ratio and it’s not always an issue if the site has a low/high HTML-text ratio. There is no such thing as an optimal HTML-text ratio.

What you as an SEO pro may focus on instead is ensuring that the site’s speed and performance are optimal.

7. XML Sitemap Not Indicated in robots.txt

Robots.txt, in addition to being the file with crawler directives, is also the place where you can specify the URL of the XML sitemap so that Google can crawl it and index the content easily.

SEO crawlers such as Semrush Site Audit will notify you if the XML sitemap is not indicated in robots.txt.

At a glance, this looks like a serious issue even though in most cases it isn’t because:

  • Google usually does not have problems crawling and indexing smaller sites (below 10,000 pages).
  • Google will not have problems crawling and indexing huge sites if they have a good internal linking structure.
  • An XML sitemap does not need to be indicated in robots.txt if it’s correctly submitted in Google Search Console.
  • An XML sitemap does not need to be indicated in robots.txt if it’s in the standard location – i.e., /sitemap.xml (in most cases).

Before you mark this as a high-priority issue in your SEO audit, make sure that none of the above is true for the site you are auditing.

Bonus: The Tool Reports a Critical Error That Relates to Few Unimportant URLs

Even if the tool is showing a real issue, such as a 404 page on the site, it may not be a serious issue if one out of millions of webpages on the site return status 404 or if there are no links pointing to that 404 page.

That’s why, when assessing the issues detected by the crawler, you should always check how many webpages they relate to and which ones.

You need to give the error context.

Sitebulb, for example, will show you the percentage of URLs that a given error relates to.

It looks like a pretty serious issue but it only relates to one unimportant webpage, so it’s definitely not a high-priority issue.

Final Thoughts & Tips

SEO crawlers are indispensable tools for technical SEO professionals. However, what they reveal must always be interpreted within the context of the website and your goals for the business.

It takes time and experience to be able to tell the difference between a pseudo-issue and a real one. Fortunately, most crawlers offer extensive explanations of the errors and warnings they display.

That’s why it’s always a good idea – especially for beginner SEO professionals – to read these explanations and the crawler documentation. Make sure you really understand what a given issue means and whether it’s indeed worth escalating to a fix.

Bark’s Certificate Of Excellence 2021

What It Takes To Get Bark’s Certificate Of Excellence 2021

By | Networking Bizz News

Once again, our team at Networking Bizz has done it again!

Our biggest concern last year was that our clients would terminate our services due to the pandemic. Although some of this may be true, we still managed to thrive. Why is that?

Some companies saw an opportunity for growth.

With the services that we offer, it’s now more important than ever to dial down on having an online presence. Since people are shopping online more, it makes sense to stay on top of their minds while they’re scrolling through their phones.

Now more than ever, we’ve seen an increase in demand for SEO, PPC, and website design. If your business is not online, it doesn’t exist.

That’s why our team here at Networking Bizz is dedicated to educating our clients who don’t have experience with digital marketing. We handle their online efforts while they worry about making the sales in the front end.

And if you’re not sure where to look to work with the right agency, we always recommend finding an agency that has proven they have experience in the field (and some credibility helps too).

Like Networking Bizz, our team works hard to earn our recognition. And we sure proved our dedication when we achieve the certificate of excellence again from Bark – a reputable platform where business owners can find the right agencies to work with.

So why not just let Networking Bizz handle all your marketing matters? We’re confident about helping your business grow in 2021!

Choose the Best WordPress Theme for SEO

Choose the Best WordPress Theme for SEO

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Learn why SEO-friendly WordPress themes are important for search rankings, see how to choose one, and discover the 5 best themes for SEO.

Your WordPress theme encapsulates your brand’s aura and helps provide a good user experience. But people often forget about the search engine optimization (SEO) aspect of it.

A WordPress theme that isn’t SEO-friendly (or worse, is bloated and slow) can be a real hindrance in the fiercely competitive battle to land on top of the search engine result pages (SERPs).

And since higher rankings can drive more organic traffic, leads, and revenue — this is one element you really want to get right.

In this guide, you’ll learn what an SEO-friendly theme is, what you should consider when selecting one, and which five WordPress themes are best for SEO.

The Basics of a Search-Friendly WordPress Theme

A WordPress theme built with search engine optimization in mind helps websites achieve better rankings on SERPs.

Optimized WordPress themes are built to elevate your SEO efforts and provide a great user experience.

There are thousands of themes for WordPress users to choose from and thousands more from third-party providers. Most of these themes make your WordPress website look stunning, but a glance under the hood could tell a different story.

Poor coding, slow loading speeds, and a lack of plugin support can be hiding underneath a beautiful facade. All of these flaws affect search engine rankings.

When you have significant technical SEO issues, Google won’t trust your website as an industry authority, and you’ll likely struggle to reach the first page.

On the other hand, the best WordPress themes for SEO are both stunning and optimized with the latest SEO techniques in mind. They’ll have:

  • A responsive design.
  • Clean code.
  • Fast loading speeds.

And they’ll let you optimize your WordPress website effortlessly.

How to Choose the Best WordPress Theme for SEO

So, how do you choose an SEO-friendly WordPress theme?

You should:

1. Pick a Responsive Theme

Mobile devices (excluding tablets) account for over 54% of web page views worldwide.

A majority of smartphone users look up websites, products, and related content on their phones. After all, when you hear about a cool product, you usually don’t want to wait until you’re home to check it out.

SEO-friendly WordPress themes have responsive layouts. A responsive WordPress website will adjust to varying screen sizes across devices with ease.

That way, mobile shoppers aren’t greeted with a poorly-adjusted e-commerce homepage when they click through.

Google prefers mobile-friendly websites and offers a tool where you can test how your website fares.

2. Pick a Theme That Supports Most Plugins

WordPress plugins help unlock your website’s true potential with additional features for both users and website owners.

WooCommerce, Jetpack, Akismet, and Google Analytics are popular plugins. You can also download the best SEO plugins to make optimization easier.

The WordPress theme you pick should support popular plugins, especially those you use regularly.

W3 Super Cache is an example of a plugin that’s always active because it maintains optimum page speed. You don’t want it to fail because you switched themes.

3. Pick a Theme with Clean Code

Your website is made up of codes. If these codes are poorly written, it can affect your website’s security, speed, and resources.

The same applies to WordPress themes.

The best WordPress themes for SEO have clean code that makes them more secure and reliable, with less downtime.

Clean code and SEO go hand-in-hand. This is because clean code-WordPress themes boost page load speed and SEO ranking.

For example, an optimized theme with clean code speeds up updates of essential SEO elements like meta, title, and header tags. This helps search engines to:

  • Find these tags quickly.
  • Crawl your website easily.

To analyze your chosen WordPress theme and ensure it has clean code that conforms to the standard WordPress coding conventions, you can make use of Theme Check.

All you have to do is:

  • Install your preferred theme to WordPress.
  • Install and activate the Theme Check plugin.
  • Go to Appearance and select Theme Check from the list.
  • Click on your chosen theme from the drop-down.
  • Hit the Check it!

Theme Sniffer was another tool built for theme evaluation. However, this plugin is no longer functional.

Note that free WordPress themes don’t have the cleanest code and might pose security threats, especially if the developer copies and alters code from an online source.

4. Choose a Theme That Works on Multiple Browsers

Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, and Opera are common desktop and mobile browsers, but there are several more. You don’t need to cater to all of them, but your theme should work across the most popular browsers.

An SEO-friendly WordPress theme caters to all popular browsers, making it convenient for users to read and share your content, regardless of their browser choice.

Besides supporting different browsers, check version compatibility. Not everyone uses the latest browser version. Often updates are delayed based on the device or operating system they’re using.

Ideally, your website should work seamlessly on the last five versions of the most popular Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux browsers.

You can use tools like PowerMapper to check browser compatibility.

Developers can also manually run tests to determine compatibility.

5. Select a Theme With a Page Builder Plugin

A page builder is a WordPress plugin that makes it easier to create your website’s layout through drag-and-drop features. You can quickly choose from premade layout options and drag and drop the elements to place them where you want.

 

Page builders are an excellent option for easy website creation, and most premium WordPress themes offer them. If you’re a digital marketing agency working with multiple clients, you can use page builders to set up multiple websites quickly.

But page builders do have a few issues.

Page builders generate a lot of code, and, as mentioned earlier, bloated websites are slow. This is bad for SEO.

More importantly, when you create a website using a page builder and then switch themes, the layout — and consequently, the content on it — will require several edits. Your technical and on-page SEO could be affected, so be sure to account for SEO during a re-build.

Choose a theme that has a popular page builder plugin built-in. Or, install a separate page builder plugin that works across most themes.

6. Choose a Theme That Loads Quickly

Users have very short attention spans. Many will leave if a website takes more than a few seconds to load. Page speed is crucial for SEO.

Improving page speed has shown tremendous results. A Deloitte Digital and Google study shows that decreasing load time by 0.1s led to an 8% increase in conversions on e-commerce websites.

It’s tempting to go for a reasonably-priced theme with a laundry list of features, like custom widgets or Google Fonts. But if you don’t actually use these functions, then they’re just slowing your website down.

You should pick a fast, lightweight, and customizable WordPress theme with only the features you need. Alternatively, you can pick SEO-optimized themes that let you disable functions you don’t use.

Use Google Search Console to find out how fast your website is and see if it’s slowed down after you’ve installed a theme.

7. Select a Theme That’s Updated Regularly

Regular theme updates are crucial for security and bug fixes. You don’t want a WordPress theme that’s updated once a year.

Developers use updates to provide the latest security patches, fix bugs, address compatibility issues with the latest browsers and plugins, and clean up old code.

Your SEO takes a hit when you use an outdated theme. If your theme isn’t compatible with the latest version of Google Chrome, it won’t load. You’ll lose out on the potential traffic generated by Chrome users and give your competitors a chance to leapfrog you.

Outdated themes might also have limited functionality on newer devices and browsers.

8. Choose a Theme With Good Ratings

The easiest way to identify the best WordPress themes for SEO is to check user reviews and ratings. Don’t just check the reviews and testimonials on the theme’s official website — check for ratings on third-party websites and social media too.

Users might not leave SEO-focused reviews, but they will often list things like “slow loading speed” or “not mobile-friendly.” Compare these to your SEO checklist to understand how usable and well-built the theme is.

Compare common user problems with issues that could affect your website in general, and avoid those themes.

While a small number of speed-related complaints in a sea of positive reviews is OK, you should avoid themes with mostly poor reviews.

Best WordPress Theme for SEO

  • Divi.
  • Astra.
  • Kadence.
  • Hello by Elementor.
  • GeneratePress.

Final Thoughts: How to Pick the Best SEO-Optimized WordPress Theme

WordPress themes are a great way to spruce up your website, but they shouldn’t hinder your SEO efforts. Don’t let the overwhelming amount of theme options intimidate you into quickly picking one and settling.

Instead, maintain your cool and pick an SEO-optimized WordPress theme after doing your research.

SEO Strategy

Interactive Content Impact an SEO Strategy?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Want to stand out in a sea of static content, boost your SEO, and grow your brand? Here’s why you should invest in interactive content.

This post was sponsored by Rock Content. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

What comes to your mind when you think about your SEO strategy?

Link building? Backlinks? Keywords?

Well, although these are great pillars of an SEO strategy, they are also what everybody else is focusing their attention on.

And you don’t want to use the same tactics as the competition, right?

You want to invest your time and money in something new yet effective – like interactive content.

Yep, this may seem like a weird idea at first.

You might not believe this, but interactivity is a crucial element to increase engagement and improve the overall experience of a reader with a piece of content.

This means that interactive content can better respond to a user’s intent, therefore favoring your SEO strategy.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s start with the basics first.

What Is Interactive Content?

In the simplest of terms, interactive contents are dynamic materials that site users are encouraged to engage with.

Think about a piece of content that requires active participation to be used and that is able to adapt itself according to the inputs of the user.

A few of these content types include:

  • Animated infographics.
  • Quizzes.
  • Ebooks.
  • Assessments.
  • Calculators.

Brands are increasingly investing in interactive content to keep users on the site, as well as to deliver their messages more effectively.

When people interact with content on a site, they are more likely to stay on the site longer – which is great for engagement purposes – because the experience given to the user is more fun, exciting, and customized, and the information is presented in a way that the user is more likely to read.

This type of content also lets you be aware of when and how a person interacts with your materials, which generates richer data for your strategies.

How Does Interactive Content Benefit an SEO Strategy?

When done well, interactive content can be an engaging element that provides a lot of value to the user. After all, a customized message tailored to each person can become more relevant to your audience.

And isn’t relevance the whole point of SEO?

Check our list of why we’re so passionate about interactive content.

Engagement

Engagement is not only important for SEO but is also really important for your brand.

Having interactive content on your site makes it more likely for people to spend more time on your pages – and they are also more likely to give out their personal information.

In the end, it is not only about the information you give, but also the way people get it.

You can create calculators, quizzes, assessments, and many other experiences that will engage and delight your audience which leads to:

  • Links to your content.
  • Social media sharing.
  • More time on your site and more visited pages.

Every day new brands start producing content for their audiences, trying to figure out how to beat their competition and interactive content can be a unique factor to set your brand apart and guarantee an audience that loves and shares your content.

Link Bait

Link bait is a term that simply means you’re baiting users to link to the content you offer.

How come? By offering content so great and unique that people would gladly link to it.

Interactive content can generate a level of engagement and brand awareness that’s not provided by standard, static content. It’s a memorable experience, and memorable experiences are likely to get more links.

Here’s an example:

This persona generator is an interactive content that users love, and it has attracted a large number of backlinks. It is a huge success with our American, Brazilian, and Spanish audiences by helping people create their persona and providing a great experience in the process.

When you look at the Persona Generator page data (the Portuguese version), you can see a significant number of backlinks and more than 600 unique domains linking for it.

That’s an example of how much authority and awareness a well-made interactive experience can generate for your brand and domain.

Social Shares

You probably know that having your links shared on social media doesn’t directly help your organic search ranking.

But that doesn’t mean your results are unaffected by this.

Social shares, like backlinks, show that people like the site and want to “vote” for it. This increases the visibility of your content and helps you get noticed by search engines.

The more online mentions your brand gets, the more authority and awareness you get. This brings more traffic to your site/blog and also increases your chances of getting backlinks.

Also, social shares allow your brand to get more known, which leads to more branded searches and more authority in search engines’ eyes.

How many times have you seen content like calculators and quizzes shared on social media?

Plenty, I’d guess.

Social media users love to share interactive content and infographics because they’re more personal and will give their followers something valuable.

Brand Awareness

A big part of making a website popular is getting both backlinks and social shares. When it gets both of these, your brand will reach people that it has never reached before.

It will be seen by many more people than just those using a search engine. And, it will be recognized for its uniqueness.

It also gets your business name out there and builds a reputation for it. When people have seen multiple pages from your site through links, you start to build a name and show that your brand can be trusted to put out high-quality content.

It does what brands have always sought to do – let people know that they can count on quality with your brand.

Brand awareness, in its essence, is simply a way of letting consumers know that your name is linked to whatever you sell. It seeks to set the brand apart from its competitors with its quality and unique characteristics.

When you put it into an SEO perspective it will increase the number of navigational searches to your website, and that is a direct ranking factor.

Also, if your brand is more well known it is more likely that people click on your pages on SERPs. Sometimes we don’t click on the first result because we know and trust a brand that is ranking lower.

SEO Metrics

Content quality and answering the searcher intent are two of the most important ranking factors (alongside backlinks).

And there are some metrics that help us check how your audience is reacting to your content:

  • Time on page.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Pages per visit.

Using interactive content helps you improve all three of these metrics. We’ll show you how:

Time on Page

Can you imagine having a 1,000-word article that people only spend an average of 10 seconds on? That tells a lot about a content’s quality.

Interactive experiences are engaging and offer a unique experience for the user.

By interacting with your pages people will spend more time at your site and will send better signals of your content quality to yourself, and also the search engines.

Bounce Rate

Another quality sign is shown when people leave your site without clicking anywhere.

Interactive experiences are almost a guarantee that people will engage with your site by clicking or typing or doing any other interaction required for the whole experience to be complete.

Pages Per Visit

The pages per visit can also be affected, as the user may like the page enough to check out more pages of your site.

If these three metrics are positive, it means that the audience is having a positive experience while visiting your site.

And as they do so, they may decide to link to your pages and further spread your links for even better SEO.

Wrap Up: Transforming Your SEO Strategy with Interactive Content

No matter what kind of site you have, you will want lots of people to visit it and for them to stay long enough interested in your content. It’s also best that they link to your site and perhaps come back to it again.

All of these goals can be assisted by interactive content.

This type of content grabs people’s interest, and it gets them interacting and staying longer. It’s also the perfect link bait.

If you need to build your brand and get it recognized and sought out, it might be time for getting started with interactive content.

It’s a great way to stand out in a sea of static content, boost your SEO, and keep your brand growing steadily.

Keyword Research for SEO

Get Started With Keyword Research for SEO

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Keyword research is an ongoing process for marketers. Learn the basics of good SEO keyword research and analysis here.

Despite all the many changes to SEO practice over the years, keyword research remains one of the most fundamental SEO tasks.

Some form of keyword research is still one of the first things SEO professionals at all skill levels do – especially for a new site (or for any site for which they want to improve or expand search rankings).

So learning to do good SEO keyword research and analysis is one of the most valuable skills you can build.

What is Keyword Research?

Keyword research is a process of discovering and determining the keywords that matter most for the objectives of a given website.

In other words, it’s finding not only the keywords you want to rank for but also the ones you should rank for (what people who want what you have to offer actually search for).

Properly done, keyword research also yields the topics for which you should be creating content on your site.

Competitive analysis is an area closely related to keyword research.

During your research you can uncover what your competitors are ranking for that you are not, which may lead to key insights not only for your SEO strategy but for your business as well.

This guide will get you started with everything you need to know to do keyword research to build a solid foundation for your SEO.

Why Keyword Research is Important

Keyword research enables you to understand the specific terms people are using to solve their problem – and the context behind those terms.

It is important to research keywords to dispel any misunderstandings or assumptions you may have about your users’ needs and the language they use to express them.

Keyword research informs your content optimizations every step of the way.

The Keyword Research Process

Good keyword research follows an orderly process, a set of steps that help accomplish all the goals mentioned above.

However, this is not a one-and-done process.

You will need to continually revisit these steps.

Why?

Because your market situation will change over time.

Some of the changes that can necessitate new keyword research include:

  • Shifting needs or desires of your target consumers.
  • New queries that hadn’t appeared before or new terms searchers are using to look for what you offer.
  • New competitors entering the market.
  • Changes to search engine algorithms or search features.
  • And many more.

Make the keyword research process one of your regular habits for good SEO health and growth.

There are many legitimate ways to approach keyword research, but in this guide, we will follow these steps:

  • Analyze current keywords.
  • Formulate your goals.
  • Build your keyword “wish” list.
  • Assess the competitive landscape.
  • Expand your keyword horizons.
  • Prioritize by opportunities vs. investment.

Note: The remainder of this chapter is from the perspective of a business website trying to sell products or services to potential customers. However, the basic principles apply to non-business sites as well. Just substitute your cause or passion or interest for the products and services.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for organic search traffic, you’re still trying to “sell” something!

Step 1: Analyze Current Keywords

This is where you should begin if you already have a set of keywords you’ve been trying to rank for.

If you’re starting totally from scratch, skip to Step 2

If you’re taking over an existing site or working on a site for a while, you probably have some list of keywords in mind that you’ve been trying to rank for.

The first thing you should do is list those keywords and run an analysis to see how they’ve been performing.

To analyze larger applications you’ll probably want a paid tool.

But for a more basic site, there are many free rank tracking tools available.

If your list of keywords is relatively small, you could search for them on Google to see where they are currently ranking (although that won’t give you any ranking history).

Look at the ranking history and search volume for these keywords from your tool of choice.

Next, use Google Search Console to determine what keywords your site already ranks for (if any).

Your goal here is to establish a baseline of keyword performance.

Use the metrics you’ve gathered on your existing keywords to separate good-performing keywords from poor-but-worthwhile ones.

These are keywords that have sufficient search volume and impressions but have lower ranking and/or click-through rates.

Put the poor-but-worthwhile keywords aside to add to the list you’ll develop in the steps below.

The new keywords you’ll discover in your keyword research become the guide for all your subsequent SEO work (at least in regards to things like content optimization and link building).

Your goal here is to establish a baseline of keyword performance that you can use for growing your keyword universe in the other steps below.

Step 2: Formulate Your Goals

You might think you’re ready to start real keyword research now.

However, without some carefully crafted goals – the specific business and brand needs you want to earn organic traffic for – it will be a futile effort.

Why does this matter?

Because those goals will give you a sense of direction in your research.

Many times keyword research will turn up keywords that you could rank for, but if they are not keywords that will attract visitors who can become the solutions to the needs stated in your goals, they won’t be worth the effort you’d put into trying to rank for them.

In my opinion, this is the most overlooked step in typical keyword research efforts.

Having goals will help improve your chances of SEO success.

Plus, you’ll save more time and effort than necessary – and avoid targeting irrelevant terms (so-called vanity keywords) or keywords with little or no return on investment (ROI).

Here are a few questions to ask when formulating your goals for keyword research:

  • Who is our target audience? Who buys what we sell, and why?
  • What do we sell, and what is our unique value proposition in our marketplace?
  • What are the chief needs and/or desires of people who become our customers?
  • What are their secondary, related needs?
  • What are the things our target consumers need to know to feel confident in who they choose to buy from?

Knowing the answers to these questions can help you focus on the keywords that will really matter to your business.

Step 3: Build Your Keyword “Wish List”

This step is truly internal research.

That is, it begins in your own head (or the collective heads of your team, if you have one).

Using the answers to the questions in Step 2, combined with the experience of your business or industry, list out the keywords you think best describe what your potential customers search for when they are in various phases of their buyer journey.

  • What would they search for when they are just trying to educate themselves about the kinds of things you sell?
  • What would they search for when they are trying to make an informed decision about who to buy from?
  • What would they search for when they want to buy specific things you sell?

The purpose of these brainstormed lists is similar to the purpose of Step 2: To provide some guidance in your research in determining what matters for your business.

Don’t assume that the keywords you come up with from this exercise are all actually valuable.

Step 6 will, among other things, help you determine that.

Step 4: Assess the Competitive Landscape

One of the best sources to find keywords you should be ranking for but aren’t yet is your competitors.

If they’ve been in the game longer than you, they have probably uncovered and capitalized on many more opportunities, whether they found them by careful research or just stumbled upon them.

Many SEO tools will show you the top-ranking keywords for a given domain, but you may need to invest in one of the paid tools to delve deeper.

Let’s look at some different ways of approaching competitive keyword research.

Using Google

We’ll start with the simplest free method of competitive keyword discovery: Google itself.

This method can uncover a lot of opportunities, but since it is dependent on a certain amount of guesswork on your part, it isn’t going to give the full picture.

Nevertheless, it can be a good way to start if you don’t have good tools handy.

Google is most helpful in identifying who your top online competitors are.

Keep in mind these may not be the same in every case as your “real world” competition (if you and others are selling your wares through brick and mortar stores, for example).

Start by searching for the products or services you sell, and see who comes up in the top few results consistently.

If you sell multiple products or services and these two show up again and again in searches, add them to a list of top competitors.

Be sure to also search any alternative names searchers might use for your products or services.

Next, do a Google site search for each product and its alternative names for each competitor domain.

To do this, enter into Google the search term and then site:domainname.com (using the domain of the competitor).

This search tells us the alternative keywords that the competitor ranks for in Google for this product.

In the example above, we see that Google might show Home Depot’s garage door opener products to people searching for belt-drive garage door openers, chain-drive garage door openers, and 4-garage door openers. Add all of these to your keyword list.

Using Keyword Tools

For more sophisticated competitive research, you’ll need a third-party tool.

Some of the free tools can provide you with limited access to this intelligence, whereas almost all of the paid tools can show you a much more complete competitive picture.

Many tools allow you to input a competitor’s domain to discover the keywords they rank highest for.

With these tools, you usually can dig to another level where you can discover:

  • Keywords both you and a competitor rank for (if you rank lower, what would it take to boost you above them?).
  • Keywords where they rank, but you don’t (time to create or improve some pages to get in that game!).

Step 5: Expand Your Keyword Horizons

While keywords are still foundational to good SEO, optimizing for them alone will only get you so far.

Over the years, Google has vastly improved its ability to recognize topics and all their related terms, so now every keyword is really the gateway to a topical universe.

There are a number of free tools designed specifically for suggesting related topics for any given keyword.

Some of the most popular include:

  • Answer the Public.
  • Keyword Explorer.
  • Keywords Everywhere.
  • Find more in this list of tools here on Search Engine Journal.

Most of these tools work by scraping Google SERPs (and sometimes the sites that rank highest there) to discover the search terms and questions searchers use most frequently for a given topic or keyword.

As always, some paid tools will give you more depth, including terms semantically related to your keywords.

As a final step, look through your now-expanded keyword list to pick out the high-level topics, then group the remaining keywords under these according to relevance.

You can use this organized list later to guide you in building out interlinked content that will give you broader topical relevancy with search engines.

Step 6: Prioritize by Opportunities vs. Investment

This final step is not really research per se, but it is a critical bridge to converting what you discovered in your research into actions that lead to results.

In this process, your first priority should be the best opportunities, but these always must be weighed against the cost of winning those opportunities.

In other words, a particular keyword may have a high traffic potential, but if you will have to spend too much time trying to win a good rank for it or you won’t be able to convert that traffic into one of your business goals, then it isn’t worth the cost.

Gather the Metrics & Sort

Put all the keywords you’ve accumulated into a spreadsheet and create columns for key indicators of value and cost, such as:

  • Average search volume.
  • Impressions.
  • Clicks.
  • CPC bid price.

Even though CPC isn’t an organic search metric, it can serve as a good indicator of how competitive the keyword is.

The higher the CPC, the more competitive it is, and the more difficult it may be to win a good organic position for it.

Another metric you may want to look at is trends.

  • How has this keyword performed over time?
  • Is it growing in search volume?
  • Has its CPC risen or fallen?

If you don’t have a tool that tracks such trends, Google Trends can at least give you an idea of search interest in a topic over time, though you won’t find every keyword there.

Don’t just prioritize by these metrics, however. Go back to the goals you formulated in Step 2.

Which keywords are most likely to contribute at each step in a buyer’s journey to you accomplishing your business goals?

Match up with Your Existing Content

Decide which keywords from your list relate to content you already have.

Looking at what ranks in the SERPs for a keyword, determine its primary search intent as Google sees it. Is it:

  • Transactional (something people enter when they are looking to buy)?
  • Informational (something people enter when they want to learn more)?
  • Local (something people enter when they want to find a nearby store or facility)?
  • Navigational (something people enter when they know exactly what they want and who they want to get it from)?

Now evaluate whether each piece of content is well-optimized for the keyword(s) you mapped to it and if that content also fits the search intent of the keyword.

If it doesn’t, then plan to either improve that piece of content or build something new to do the job better.

Start Your Keyword Flywheel

Keyword research is a process that should never end.

Fluctuations in the marketplace, new competitors, changes to Google, changes in your business, all of these, and more can necessitate further research and prioritization of keywords.

Ongoing keyword research is one of the best ways never to lose your competitive edge.

Build the muscle now, exercise it regularly, and it will keep building your benefits year after year.

Deindexed by Google

Ways to Get Deindexed by Google

By | Networking Bizz News, seo advice for business

Why does Google remove some content from its index? These 20 practices can explain why Google chooses not to display some web pages.

Why does Google remove content from its index?

Google chooses to exclude some webpages because not every optimization is a good one, and some content just doesn’t provide a good answer for searchers.

You may be accidentally publishing spam pages in pursuit of SEO or trying to deceive Google’s algorithm.

In this column, you’ll learn more about 20 different ways you might find your site deindexed by Google, including:

  • Crawl Blocking Through Robots.txt File.
  • Spammy Pages.
  • Keyword Stuffing.
  • Duplicate Content.
  • Auto-Generated Content.
  • Cloaking.
  • Sneaky Redirects.
  • Phishing and Malware Setup.
  • User-Generated Spam.
  • Link Schemes.
  • Low-Quality Content.
  • Hidden Text or Links.
  • Doorway Pages.
  • Scraped Content.
  • Low-Value Affiliate Programs.
  • Poor Guest Posts.
  • Spammy Structured Data Markup.
  • Automated Queries.
  • Excluding Webpages in Your Sitemap.
  • Hacked Content.

Practices To Avoid To Prevent Being Deindexed by Google Search

Certain SEO techniques can remove your website from Google search. Here are the 20 schemes to avoid so you can rank on the SERPs:

Crawl Blocking Through Robots.txt File

You end up removing your URL from Google’s search result pages (SERPs) yourself if you have a crawl block in your robots.txt file.

Page Cannot Be Crawled or Displayed Due to robots.txt

“Page cannot be crawled or displayed due to robots.txt” is a standard error message that appears when your web pages are not crawlable.

If you didn’t want the page blocked, update your robots.txt file so Google crawlers know to index the page.

Spammy Pages

Did you know that Google finds over 25 billion spammy pages every day?

There are several spam mechanisms Google finds on various websites. According to Google’s 2019 Webspam report, link spam, user-generated spam, and spam on hacked websites are the top three spam trends.

If you create suspicious pages to trick users and search engines or leave your comment section unprotected against user-generated spam, you risk removing your URL from Google search results.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing refers to the irrelevant and excessive placement of a specific keyword throughout a content piece.

While keyword stuffing might appear an easy way to increase your rankings, you also risk having Google remove your website from search results.

Mention your keywords naturally in places like your page URL, post title, metadata, introduction, subheadings, conclusion, and scantily within the body.

Overall, each keyword placement should have a relevant context.

Duplicate Content

Google does not condone duplicate content, whether you copy other websites’ content or reuse the content of your webpages.

Google removes content that is plagiarized from the SERPs.

To avoid that, create unique and relevant content in line with search engine rules.

If you must include duplicate content pages on your website, use the x-robot and add a noindex tag and nofollow HTML meta tag.

Auto-Generated Content

A lot of website owners are the Chief-Everything officers of their businesses and therefore have little or no time for content creation.

Article spinners might be tempting as a quick solution. However, using article spinners might get your content removed from search results.

Google removes content that is auto-generated because it:

  • Focuses on replacing keywords with synonyms.
  • Adds little to no value to readers.
  • Contains errors and lacks context.

Cloaking

Cloaking is a violation of Google’s rules. It will get your website removed from Google search.

In cloaking, content delivery depends on “who” the user agent is. For example, a webpage may display text to a search engine bot and images to a human user.

In other words, a website’s visitors might see images, or even malicious content, while search engines like Google and Bing will see search optimized content.

Sneaky Redirects

Google penalizes sneaky redirects as t displays different content to human users than what was forwarded to search engines – similarly to cloaking.

You risk removing your URL from Google if your redirect is a manipulative move.

Nonetheless, you can use redirects for sending a user to:

  • Updated website address.
  • URL containing merged pages.

Phishing and Malware Setup

Google forbids cybercrimes, whether phishing or setting up malware like trojans and computer viruses.

Google’s content removal activates if you create malicious webpages to:

  • Gain unsolicited access to users’ sensitive information.
  • Hijack user system functions.
  • Corrupt or delete essential data.
  • Track users’ computer activity.

User-Generated Spam

While user-generated spam might appear on high-ranking websites, excessive user-generated content can lead to Google removing your URL from Google search results.

This practice is common on platforms that allow users to access tools and plugins to create their accounts or add comments.

Common examples of this spam include comment spam on blogs and forum spam – with malicious bots spamming the forum with links to viruses and malware.

Link Schemes

Link schemes include the act of soliciting link exchanges to increase the number of backlinks and, ultimately, search rankings.

These manipulative link-building practices such as link farms, private blog networks, and link directories violate Google’s SEO guidelines.

Google disapproves of:

  • Paid links for manipulation of search results.
  • Low-quality link directories.
  • Invisible links in the footers.
  • Comments and signatures on forums with keyword-stuffed links.

Low-Quality Content

Creating low-quality content can see your content removed from Google Search faster than you think.

You shouldn’t post irrelevant, meaningless, or plagiarized content for keyword ranking or consistency’s sake. Take time to write high-quality and original posts that your audience will find helpful.

Hidden Text or Links

Steer clear of using hidden text or links to boost your rankings. It violates Google’s rules and might lead to the removal your URL from Google.

Google removes content containing text or links that:

  • Seem impossible to read.
  • Hide behind an image.
  • Match the website background color.

Doorway Pages

Doorways, also known as portal or bridge pages, are related websites or pages that rank for specific search terms but lead to the same destination once you click.

Google penalizes users for doorway pages because the sole aim is to gather huge traffic to a webpage while deceiving users with varying search results.

Scraped Content

Some website owners drag content from high authority websites to their websites with little to no modification in content. Even if they do modify the content, they do so by replacing the words with their synonyms.

While scraped content might disguise as curated content, it violates Google’s Webmaster guidelines and can result in the removal of your website from Google search since it:

  • Carries no originality.
  • Results in copyright infringement.

Low-Value Affiliate Programs

On your WordPress website, you may be running affiliate programs while simply posting the descriptions of the promoted products you find on other platforms. Google considers this behavior a poor content marketing effort, and can remove your URL from Google search as a result.

In general, Google removes the content of thin affiliate pages from appearing on the SERPs due to low-quality content.

Poor Guest Posts

Guest posting is a good SEO habit when done right.

On the other hand, if you don’t set strict guidelines and are publishing low-quality guest posts that link to spammy blogs, Google can deindex and remove your website from search.

Spammy Structured Data Markup

Google’s structured data guidelines state that you must steer clear of misleading or spammy markup to avoid getting a penalty.

Google determines whether a URL will show up in search results and rich snippets using data markup. If it finds irrelevant, manipulative, hidden, or danger-inclined content on your website, Google may remove that content from its index.

Automated Queries

Sending automated queries from your website to Google can earn you a penalty.

Avoid sending queries from bots or automated service to Google to see how your website rank. It violates Webmaster Guidelines, and Google might deindex and remove your URL from Google search.

Excluding Webpages in Your Sitemap

Like metal to a magnet, search engine bots are attracted to sitemaps.

Your sitemap helps Google understand your website at a glance by:

  • Providing an overview of pages and their importance.
  • Displaying details of images, videos, and news.
  • Showing how your content is interlinked.

To remove URLs from Google search results, you can exclude the webpages from the sitemap that you don’t want Google indexing. You should still block the page using robots.txt if you really don’t want Google finding and indexing it.

Also, you can check your Google Search Console account to see how your sitemap performs.

Hacked Content

Hacked content is a cybersecurity concern. It refers to any content found on your website without your consent – added through a security backdoor – to attack users’ privacy or resources.

Like website malware, hacked content can result in the removal of your website from Google search. Google removes content like this from search results to ensure users’ safe browsing.

Final Thoughts

Don’t inadvertently remove your website from Google search by trying every SEO technique you find on the web. Avoid these 20 practices we’ve mentioned above — unless you’re looking to have specific pages excluded from the index.

Google removes content that falls short of its guidelines. Stick to the rules and create quality content that addresses the searchers’ intents to keep growing your site’s presence in search.

Shopify Developers In Los Angeles

Shopify Developers In Los Angeles

By | Networking Bizz News

If you’re entering the world of eCommerce, you may have many questions in your head. Feelings like this are common and we are here to help you find answers to help you through your journey.

Why Shopify?

The Shopify platform is one of the largest eCommerce platforms on the internet, boasting 600,000 active eCommerce stores generating more than $63 billion worth of sales.

To help business owners start their own e-commerce stores to sell goods and services, Shopify provides a platform on where they can build their stores. You can use the platform’s features to integrate an e-commerce theme with your retail store’s sales system.

Additionally, Shopify gives you the ability to create beautiful storefront pages, the shopping cart page, as well as web-hosting, analytics, and product management, among other features like SSL, security, and a blogging platform.

Do You Need To Hire A Shopify Developer?

It takes more than a fancy visual to be a trusted Shopify developer. By hiring the right person, you can also trust them to help you with:

  • Shopify Store Creation & Redesign
  • Shopify Theme Modifications
  • Shopify App Installation
  • Page Layout Setting
  • Store Migration from other platforms
  • Theme development from sketch
  • Custom future additions
  • Custom branding
  • Theme configuration
  • Theme Troubleshooting

Where To Find Shopify Developers In Los Angeles?

You can find Shopify developers with years of experience online, but finding the right one can be challenging. It can also be difficult to trust freelancers or new firms you Googled about.

Don’t worry though, because here at Networking Bizz we can help with that. In fact, we’ve been ranked 2nd for Shopify Developers in Los Angeles by Design Rush!

By hiring expert Shopify developers, your e-commerce store’s quality and performance can be guaranteed for years to come. That’s why we recommend you check us out at DesignRush to find the best Shopify developers for your upcoming project, and based on your needs.

Find out more by clicking here: Shopify Developers In Los Angeles

Business Absolutely Needs SEO

Reasons Why Your Business Absolutely Needs SEO

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

This year, the need for SEO rose to an all-time high. As consumers shifted en masse to online, even the most traditional business realized that they need to accelerate the shift to digital.

SEO is the most viable and cost-effective way to both understand and reach customers in key moments that matter.

Many brands and businesses know (or think they know) that they need SEO for their digital properties, and the benefits they will get from the SEO work being implemented on their behalf.

SEO will certainly improve a website’s overall searchability and visibility, but what other real value does it offer?

Why is SEO growing in importance the way it is?

These 15 reasons should offer some clarity, regardless of the industry or business size, as to why businesses need SEO to take their brand to the next level.

1. Organic Search is Most Often the Primary Source of Website Traffic

Organic search is a massive part of most businesses’ website performance and a critical component of the buyer funnel and ultimately getting users to complete a conversion or engagement.

As marketers know, Google owns a significantly larger portion of the search market than competitors like Yahoo, Bing, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and many, many others.

That’s not to say that all search engines don’t contribute to a brand’s visibility – they do. It’s just that Google owns a considerable portion of the overall search market.

Nevertheless, it’s a clear-cut leader, and thus its guidelines are important to follow.

But the remaining part of the market owned by other engines is valuable to brands, too. This is especially true for brands in niche verticals where voice, visual and vertical search engines play an essential role.

Google, being the most visited website in the world (and specifically in the United States), also happens to be the most popular email provider globally with more than 1 billion users.

YouTube is the second biggest search engine and over 2 billion people access it at least once a month.

We know that a clear majority of the world with access to the internet is visiting Google at least once a day to get information.

Being highly visible as a trusted resource by Google and other search engines will always work in a brand’s favor. Quality SEO and a high-quality website take brands there.

2. SEO Builds Trust & Credibility

The goal of any experienced SEO is to establish a strong foundation for a beautiful website with a clean, effective user experience that is easily discoverable in search, thanks to the trust and credibility of the brand and its digital properties.

Many elements go into establishing authority regarding search engines like Google.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, authority is accrued over time as a result of aspects like:

  • Natural links.
  • Positive user behaviour.
  • Machine-learning signals.
  • Optimized on-page elements and content.

But establishing that authority will do more for a brand than most, if not all, other digital optimizations.

The problem is, it’s impossible to build trust and credibility overnight – just like in real life. Authority is earned and built over time.

Following Google’s E-A-T guidelines is critical to ensure successful results.

Establishing a brand as an authority takes patience, effort, and commitment and relies on offering a valuable, quality product or service that allows customers to trust a brand.

3. SEO is the Best Way to Understand the Voice of the Consumer

From understanding macro market shifts to understanding consumer intent in granular detail, SEO tells us what customers want and need.

SEO data and formats – spoken or word – gives us clear signals of intent and user behaviour.

It does this in many ways:

  • Search query data.
  • SERP analysis.
  • Analytics data and AI insights.

4. Good SEO Also Means a Better User Experience

User experience has become every marketer’s number one priority. Everyone wants better organic rankings and maximum visibility. However, few realize that optimal user experience is a big part of getting there.

Google has learned how to interpret a good or unfavourable user experience, and a positive user experience has become a pivotal element to a website’s success.

Google’s Page Experience Update is something that marketers in all industries will need to adhere to and is part of their longstanding focus on the customer experience.

Customers know what they want. If they can’t find it, there’s going to be a problem. And performance will suffer.

A clear example of building a solid user experience is how Google has become more and more of an answer engine offering the sought-after data directly on the SERPs (search engine results pages).

The intention is to offer users the information they are looking for in fewer clicks, quickly and easily.

Quality SEO incorporates a positive user experience, leveraging it to work in a brand’s favour.

5. Local SEO Means Increased Engagement, Traffic & Conversions

With the rise and growing domination of mobile traffic, local search has become a fundamental part of small- and medium-sized businesses’ success.

Local SEO aims at optimizing your digital properties for a specific vicinity, so people can find you quickly and easily, putting them one step closer to a transaction.

Local optimizations focus on specific neighbourhoods, towns, cities, regions, and even states to establish a viable medium for a brand’s messaging on a local level.

SEO pros do this by optimizing the brand’s website and its content, including local citations and backlinks, as well as regional listings relevant to the location and business sector a brand belongs to.

To promote engagement locally, SEO pros should optimize a brand’s Knowledge Graph panel, its Google My Business listing, and its social media profiles as a start.

There should also be a strong emphasis on user reviews on Google, as well as other reviews sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List (among others), depending on the industry.

6. SEO Impacts the Buying Cycle

Research is becoming a critical element of SEO, and the importance of real-time research is growing.

Using SEO tactics to relay your messaging for good deals, ground-breaking products and services, and the importance and dependability of what you offer customers will be a game-changer.

It will also undoubtedly positively impact the buying cycle when done right.

Brands must be visible in the places people need them for a worthy connection to be made. Local SEO enhances that visibility and lets potential customers find the answers and the businesses providing those answers.

7. SEO is Constantly Improving and Best Practices are Always Being Updated

It’s great to have SEO tactics implemented on a brand’s website and across its digital properties. Still, if it’s a short-term engagement (budget constraints, etc.) and the site isn’t re-evaluated consistently over time, it will reach a threshold where it can no longer improve because of other hindrances.

The way the search world evolves (basically at the discretion of Google) requires constant monitoring for changes to stay ahead of the competition and, hopefully, on Page 1.

Being proactive and monitoring for significant algorithm changes is always going to benefit the brands doing so.

We know Google makes thousands of algorithm changes a year. Fall too far behind, and it will be tough to come back.

SEO pros help to ensure that is avoided.

8. Understanding SEO Helps You Understand the Environment of the Web

With the always-changing environment that is the World Wide Web, it can be a challenge to stay on top of the changes as they take place.

But staying on top of SEO includes being in the loop for the major changes taking place for search.

Knowing the environment of the web, including tactics being used by other local, comparable businesses and competitors, will always be beneficial for those brands.

9. SEO is Relatively Cheap and Very Cost-Effective

Sure, it costs money. But all the best things do, right?

SEO is relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and the payoff will most likely be considerable in terms of a brand’s benefit to the bottom line.

This isn’t a marketing cost; this is an actual business investment.

Exemplary SEO implementation will hold water for years to come. And, like most things in life, it will only be better with the more attention (and investment) it gets.

10. SEO is PR

SEO helps build long-term equity for your brand. A good ranking and a favorable placement help elevate your brand’s profile.

People search for news and related items, and having a good SEO and PR strategy means your brand will be seen.

Having a good user experience on your website means your messages will be heard, and your products or service sell.

SEO is no longer a siloed channel, so integrating with content and PR helps with brand reach and awareness alongside other results.

11. It’s a Long-Term Strategy

SEO can (and hopefully does) have a noticeable impact within the first year of action being taken, and many of those actions will have an effect that lasts more than several years.

As the market evolves, yes, it’s best to follow the trends and changes closely.

But even a site that hasn’t had a boatload of intense SEO recommendations implemented will improve from basic SEO best practices being employed on an honest website with a decent user experience.

And the more SEO time, effort, and budget committed to it, the better and longer a website stands to be a worthy contender in its market.

12. It’s Quantifiable

SEO is quantifiable.

While SEO doesn’t offer the same easy-to-calculate ROI as paid search, you can measure almost anything with proper tracking and analytics.

The big problem is trying to connect the dots on the back end since there is no definitive way to understand the correlation between all actions.

Still, it is worth understanding how specific actions are supposed to affect performance and growth, and hopefully, they do.

Any good SEO will aim at those improvements, so connecting the dots should not be a challenge.

Brands also want to know and understand where they were, where they are, and where they’re going in terms of digital performance, especially for SEO when they have a person/company being paid to execute on its behalf.

There’s no better way to show the success of SEO, either. But, of course, we all know the data never lies.

13. SEO Brings New Opportunities to Light

High-quality SEO will always find a means of discovering and leveraging new opportunities for brands not just to be discovered but to shine.

Offering quality SEO to brands means submersing an SEO team in everything that is that brand. It’s the only way to truly market a brand with the passion and understanding that its stakeholders have for it: becoming a stakeholder.

The better a brand is understood, the more opportunities will arise to help it thrive. The same can be said about SEO.

New opportunities with SEO today can come in many ways – from giving content, digital and social opportunities to helping with sales, product, and customer service strategies.

14. If You’re Not on Page One, You’re Not Winning the Click – Especially With Zero-Click Results

SEO is becoming a zero-sum game as zero-click SERP show the answer directly at the top of a Google search result.

The search intent of the user is satisfied without having to click any actual search result links.

It’s no secret in the world of SEO that if you’re not on Page 1, you’re likely not killing the organic search game.

A recent study shows that the first three organic search ranking positions result in over 50% of all click-throughs, while up to 30% of all results on Page 1 and 2 don’t get clicked at all.

What’s this mean?

Three things:

  • Zero-click results win.
  • If you’re not on Page 1, you need to be.
  • There are still too many instances when a user types a search query and can’t find exactly what it’s looking for.

15. SEO is Always Going to Be Here

Consumers will always want products and services online, and brands will always look for the most cost-effective way to do that.

While the role of SEO may change and strategies change, new avenues are constantly opening up through different entry points such as voice, apps, wearables, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

According to Comserve.Inc, next-generation search engines powered by deep neural networks and machine learning are set to explode in market value, from $14.9 billion in 2019 to $55.7 billion in 2025.

New, organic search opportunities will always arise.

Conclusion

The role of SEO has expanded significantly over the last few years.

In particular, SEO helps consumers when in need, and implementing robust, quality SEO on a brand’s website and digital properties will benefit brands and their marketing efforts.

SEO has its challenges, but the opportunities it brings help future-proof success for any type of business and are critical to a brand’s web presence now and in the future.

Market Strategy with SEO

How to Support Your Go-To-Market Strategy with SEO.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

For early-stage startups, developing a robust go-to-market strategy and getting product-market fit on point is key. Here’s how SEO can help.

we’ll look at another key stage in the business lifecycle of an early-stage startup — developing your go-to-market strategy and initial product launch.

As Sean Ellis said, scaling growth before having product/market fit is the fastest way to kill your startup.

In your early days and as you plan your initial product launch, there are a lot of risks. You’re under pressure to meet deadlines from various stakeholders and achieve milestones that can be tied to investment.

Without a robust go-to-market strategy, blindly investing in growth can do more harm than good.

What you’re looking for is product-market fit, which means your product/solution effectively satisfies a certain market segment. Getting this fit is crucial for short-, and long-term growth, as well as short- and long-term monthly recurring revenue (MRR) generation.

Developing a Go-To-Market Strategy

There’s no shortage of blog posts on how to develop a viable GTM strategy, but the most successful ones I’ve seen all contain elements of:

  1. Customer interaction and interview-like interactions, with both leading and open-ended questions to help identify specific use cases and to identify the timing of your solution.
  2. A form of A/B testing with a group of potential users in order to validate the product and highlight any use issues (for edge cases, or compatibility with other systems being used by the target market).
  3. A feedback method from both of the aforementioned groups, to determine exactly how your potential audience sees your product, the value it brings to them, and their willingness to pay for that value.

From these three activities, you can better inform:

  • Your pricing strategy.
  • Your core market messaging.
  • An understanding of who your competitors are.
  • An idea of how your audience will use your product, and in conjunction with which other products.

More importantly, this process helps you do something that is vital to your success but can be hated on by other stakeholders within the business – it helps you reduce your initial audience and market so you know who to target first.

Targeting a Narrower Audience with SEO

Depending on your niche, trying to do SEO for a narrower audience can sometimes mean that third-party keyword research tools start to fall down.

This is particularly true in emerging tech markets, as search volumes will be lower or phrases may not even be picked up by tools due to low/non-existent PPC spend and advertising data.

This is where your GTM strategy (and common sense) can help you develop a targeted SEO strategy for your target launch audience segment.

It can help you take your SEO strategy from whack-a-mole keyword targeting to developing content and user journeys that create value propositions.

It’ll help users better forecast their experience of your product/service.

1. SEO Helps You Understand Your Real Competitors

Everyone who sells products online is competing with Amazon and eBay, at least in theory.

However, in reality, few companies are truly competing with them.

Everyone with a SaaS product has a narrow set of competitors, but they will most likely also overlap with other SaaS products. This is something you need to factor into your marketing, as your potential customers will be considering them as options when comparing.

2. Get Focused with Keyword Research

As mentioned, when targeting a new market segment or addressing problems from a different angle, the market might not be mature in terms of “search,” so there may be little data to go after.

This means you need to look to other sources to identify keywords. But more importantly, this will force you to look for the messaging your audience seeks around the problems they’re facing.

You need to refocus on the solutions your product offers to determine the problems your audience will be searching with, and then where they will be searching.

For most tech/SaaS products, places like Quora and StackOverflow are good places to start. This is especially true if your audience is more systems, infrastructure, and engineering-focused.

If your audience is a more general marketer, then places like Facebook groups, Slack communities, Reddit, and even product-specific forums are good places to go and mine data.

It is important, however, to remember to not enter these open forums and communities with a sales-first message. You’ll likely damage your brand before you’ve even launched.

3. Experience Forecasting Informs Conversion & Retention

A lot of marketing strategies focus heavily on initial user acquisition, and I’m not saying this is a bad thing.

But when you’re going to market with a new product or service that you hope to build your company – and future products and services off the back of – you also need to factor in retention strategies.

Retention is often condemned to post-conversion activities and elements like customer service.

However, when done right retention starts during the discovery, consideration, and conversion phases.

This is something I call experience forecasting. Essentially, there are a number of variables in the customer buying process we don’t control. In addition, all customers will be subject to a number of personal experiences, their own expectations, and estimations of “good,” as well as a number of other supposedly irrelevant factors.

Our messaging needs to highlight that the product/service can meet the user’s needs. And it needs to do so in a way that best enables the user to accurately estimate how closely the service delivery will meet their expectations.

When that forecasted experience is met (or closely met), the user will be happy and likely to either convert their trial into a subscription or extend their subscription with you.

Get Granular with an SEO-Informed Go-To-Market Strategy

SEO gives you the insight to develop your most successful go-to-market strategy.

Over the long term, it’ll support the longevity of your product and the brand as a whole, as well.

Operators for SEO

Google: How to Use Search Operators for SEO.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

New Google Advanced SEO support page shows how to use search operators for identifying errors and making improvements.

Google published an Advanced SEO Help page about using Google search operators to debug a website.

Google search operator search results are not tied to Google’s regular ranking algorithm and the index used is limited and not up to date.

Yet even with those limitations the search operators provide useful information that can be used for search engine optimization related purposes

They aren’t useful for trying to learn about Google’s algorithm. But the search operators are very useful for learning more about a website.

The new documentation contains a statement about the limitations of the data:

Search operators can however be used to discover interesting information about a site.

The new documentation covers the following search operators:

  • site:
  • cache:
  • related:
  • src:
  • imagesize:

Site: Search Operator:

The site search operator shows a sample of the pages in Google. It’s not all the pages, as Google’s caveat makes clear when it stated that the search operators “are bound by indexing and retrieval limits.

Site Search does not use Google’s regular ranking algorithm and only shows a SAMPLE of pages that are indexed.

There’s always been a random quality to all search operators and that make them unreliable in terms of completeness and especially for trying to find out ranking or algorithm related factors.

This has been true for all of the search operators.

I use site: search as a quick and dirty way to find pages with specific keywords in them but I do that with the understanding that there are pages that might be missing.

For example, I had an issue with Users Generated Content where members on Apple devices were cutting and pasting non-UTF letter characters into the web page, resulting in symbols instead of letters.

Using a site: search operator I was able to find many of them and have the site software rewrite the symbols back into letters sitewide.

Cache: Search Operator:

The cache: search operator shows you Google’s cache of a web page, a copy of what the page looked like when Googlebot last crawled it.

The cache is a great way to figure out if a site is hacked and showing different content to Google (cloaking).

Related: Search Operator:

The related: search operator is a nice one. It tells you what other sites Google identifies as related to the site being searched.

The related: search operator can be useful for telling you if there’s something wrong with the content relevance if Google shows wildly unrelated sites as being related.

Src: The Hotlink Finder:

The src: search operator finds pages that hotlink to an image.

Imagesize:

The imagesize: search operator finds images with a specific size and is typically used with a site: search operator.

The two image search operators also have limitations.

Use Google Search Operators.

Google’s search operators have many uses although not all of the uses might be apparent at first glance.

For example, I’ve never had a use for the imagesize: search operator but there may come a day when I need to know if Google has crawled or indexed an image with specific image dimensions.

long tail seo

Long-Tail SEO Strategy: Why & How to Target High-Intent Keywords.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Learn the benefits of highly targeted search terms packed with intent. Here’s how to find long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage.

Standalone broad keyword strategies belong to the past. In 2021, the combination of Google’s focus on user experience and intent, alongside the rise of conversational search and applications such as voice search, means that long-tail SEO strategies are more crucial than ever.

Years ago, hunting for long-tail keywords with low search volume might have seemed like a waste of time and effort.

If you don’t have a long-tail SEO strategy, you’re missing out.

It’s never been easier to research long-tail keyword opportunities, target low-competition keywords with high conversion rates, and use long-tail keywords to boost your content.

This guide will show you how to do just that.

What Are Long-Tail Keywords?

long-tail-seo-graphLong-tail keywords are highly targeted search phrases that specifically serve searcher intent. These keywords typically have low search volume, low competition, and high conversion rates.

We call these keywords long-tail because if you were to plot your keywords by their search volumes, these would be on the “long tail” end of the search demand curve, which means few people are searching for these terms each month.

However, despite the lack of search volume, long-tail keywords are often easier to rank for and result in higher conversions than seed keywords.

This is because long-tail keywords communicate a clear customer need that you can solve — they’re intent-driven.

When you understand search intent, you can create content that specifically addresses queries and converts.

For example, a user searching for [Nike Air Max 270] indicates a clear intent to purchase. Comparatively, a search for [shoes or trainers] is a lot less clear.

The user might be looking for more information about what’s on offer, searching for different brands, or just seeking out of interest.

Note that the actual length of these keywords technically doesn’t matter. Long-tail keywords tend to be at least three words long due to their specificity, but precise low-volume searches that are only one or two words long (such as many brand names) are also considered long-tail keywords.

Why Long-tail Keywords Are Important in SEO

Let’s do a social experiment: log into your Google Search Console account right now and scroll through the search terms. What do you see? I’m willing to bet that most of the terms you rank for are long-tail.

According to Backlinko’s analysis of 306 million keywords, 91.8% of all search queries are long-tail keywords.

Now imagine what you could do if all those highly-targeted queries funneled new leads directly to your high-converting assets.

There are three main benefits to targeting these precise keywords.

1. Less Competition

Long-tail keywords are specific to your business and your niche, and as a result, search volume is low.

The upside of this is that it doesn’t take nearly as much effort to rank well for your targeted long-tail keywords.

Some simple on-page SEO and link building should catapult your landing pages into a place of prominence if your targeted terms are specific enough.

2. Higher Conversions

A little long-tail keyword sleuthing will help you discover search intent.

With search intent, you’ll be able to identify queries that indicate buyer’s intent (e.g., [buy Canada 150 collector’s coins]) and a need for additional information (e.g. [how to target long-tail keywords]).

You can use this knowledge to usher highly qualified leads into your sales funnel and complement your content marketing efforts.

3. It Helps You Optimize for Semantic, Conversational & Voice Search

Long-tail keywords are an integral part of optimizing for semantic search.long-tail-seo-graph-1

We live in an age where 55% of millennials use voice search daily.

When these users query these platforms, they use long-tail keyword phrases such as questions ([what are the best sushi restaurants nearby?]) and commands with clear intent ([compare the price of the dresses from Blush and Sherri Hill]).

Try to predict the intent behind naturally spoken and voice search questions so that you can provide answers about your business and services and better target these long-tail keyword phrases.

Remember, if you target high-converting long-tail keywords even when search density is low, these keywords can still be incredibly valuable for your business.

How to Find Long-Tail Keywords

Ranking for the right long-tail keywords might be better than striking gold.

Discovering new long-tail keywords is easy, and you can create a substantial list in minutes.

First, grab the long-tail keywords that you know you rank from your Search Console.

Now download the same information for your PPC campaigns, Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube videos, Instagram, and any other metrics you can think of that might reveal new terms.

Next, try to discover new long-tail keywords in your niche that you could rank for. Here’s how to create a list of potential long-tails manually:

Prepare a list of seed keywords. Use a keyword planning tool to generate a list of seed keywords but try to stay away from Google AdWords. While this free tool is excellent for developing a list of commercial terms to target, it intentionally steers away from long-tail terms with lower search volume, making it not very useful for our purposes.

Look at Google’s autocomplete suggestions. Type each seed keyword into Google and write down its autocomplete suggestions.

Collate Google’s related search suggestions. Scroll to the bottom of each SERP and write down the related searches.

Rinse and repeat for Bing Search Suggestions and any other search engines you want to optimize for.

Add these potential long-tails to your target list. Group all your terms and get ready to start pruning your list.

Advancements in SEO technology make this entire research step easy!

  • The best programs will even sort through multiple search engines for you, and they may discover long-tails you overlooked. Many other programs intuitively discover and sort through long-tail keywords on your behalf.
  • Now that you have a comprehensive list of all of your potential keywords, it’s time to begin pruning your list. Weed out any terms that don’t clearly communicate user intent. For example, in the “long-tail keywords related search results” listed above, the query “short tail keywords” isn’t specific enough.

When you’ve trimmed your list down to the strongest candidates (anywhere from half a dozen to a few hundred long-tails), you’ll be ready to start optimizing your pages and adding them to your content.

How to Build Content Around Long-Tail Keywords

Now that you have a list of long-tail keywords you can optimize for, what do you do with that information? The answer depends on how many long-tails you’re targeting and how closely their topics intersect.

  • Conventional wisdom dictates that you need to create a dedicated page per long-tail if you can, great! But this isn’t always feasible.
  • When you have hundreds of long-tails to target, you need content other than dedicated landing pages that you can optimize for your long-tails.
  • Break down your list of potential long-tail keywords into an easy-to-understand list organized by searcher intent.

Organizing your keywords by topic allows you to find natural places for them to live.

If this content already exists on your site, you might be able to insert these long-tails into your copy naturally. If not, you now have ideas for what your following pieces of content should focus on.

Whenever you publish new content, don’t forget about internal links. These are some of the best places for you to include some of the long-tail terms you so thoroughly researched.

Final Thoughts

Now you know how to discover long-tail keywords and use them to your advantage. But remember: Your long-tail targeting is only as strong as your content.

In 2021, if you aren’t recognized as an authority in your niche, it’s time to start creating high-value assets, blogging about your industry, and rewriting your web copy to communicate your unique value proposition (UVP) to your customers.

While you’re creating your content and optimizing your pages to include your new long-tail keywords, don’t forget to measure your rankings and traffic.

As you do so, you may discover even more keyword phrases you can target, and that will help you continue to build your reputation and improve your on-page SEO.

Google Analytics

Things Google Analytics Can’t Tell You & How to Get the Missing Info.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Google Analytics was not intended to do everything. Here are 5 things GA can’t tell you and how to get the missing information.

Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool offered by Google to track activity that occurs on your website.

With GA installed on a site, you can see how many visitors your website/app has, what pages receive the most traffic and, if configured, where actions occur.

For example, if you want to know how many users visit your site, Google Analytics can help you see the number of visits, what marketing channel they came from, and whether they were on a desktop or mobile device.

There’s no doubt that Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool for marketers, but GA was not built to tell you everything.

What Google Analytics Can’t Tell You

It’s important for marketers to be aware of Google Analytics’ limitations. Once you know what you don’t have, you can figure out how to get it.

Here are the five main things Google Analytics can’t tell you and how to get the missing information, so you can make the right marketing decisions.

1. Historical Data

Historical data is what happened prior to installing the Google Analytics tracking code to your website.

Think of the tracking code as a fishing net. Once in the water, you can look and see how many fish were caught.

But before the net is in place, you can only assume or guess as to how many fish passed through.

This is why I highly recommend setting Google Analytics up before your site launch. And, if you have yet to set up GA4, you should definitely make that a priority.

Another way you may be missing data is because Google Analytics (standard) does not automatically collect what actions users take on-site. It only tells you how many, where from, and what pages they view.

GA4 automatically tags some actions (known as events) but is missing some really important touchpoints for SEO pros, like submitting a form.

A good friend introduced me to a new analytics software, HockeyStack, which does not provide “historical data” per se but provides retroactive event tracking.

The moment you place the HockeyStack script, it automatically begins collecting all event data. No event tagging required.

I chatted with the co-founder, Emir Atli, who explained that even if it takes you months to get around to setting up goals and funnels, that historical event data will be there.

Here is a screenshot of what retroactive event tracking looks like in HockeyStack:

2. Sampling

The second thing Google Analytics can’t tell you is another instance where you may be missing out on information about your site traffic: sampling.

Data sampling means that a smaller portion of data was analyzed in order to quickly identify patterns and trends.

Seer Interactive shared a great data sampling example years ago so rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I’m going to share a paraphrased version.

Imagine your kids dump out 10,000 Lego pieces on the floor. For one reason or another, you wonder how many red Lego pieces there are.

Now, you could spend hours counting proverbial Legos – or you could select one section and count just 1,000 pieces.

If there were 200 red Legos in that 1,000 sample (this is a data “subset”), it’s reasonable to assume that 2,000 red legos were dumped out.

Obviously, sampling is significantly quicker. But at what expense?

In our Lego example, we assume that the red Legos are evenly distributed throughout the room. If the red Legos are not evenly distributed (as with business seasonality, for example) then your sampling may be way off.

So, what can we do about data sampling?

The first step is to know if your data is being sampled. If you are using the free Google Analytics account, data sampling kicks in at around 500,000 sessions within the specified date range.

When sampling is in effect, you will see a yellow shield with a checkmark at the top of the report. The message reads, “This report is based on N% of sessions.”

If you want to stop your data from being sampled, simply update to GA4. Google Analytics 4 is still free and has no hit limits.

There is one catch. Your data may not be “sampled” but thresholds are applied to protect user privacy.

When a report contains age, gender, or interest categories, a threshold may be applied and some data may be kept hidden (unknown) from the report.

The green checkmark in a GA4 default report indicates that it is 100% non-sampled data.

3. Heat Mapping

Now that we have covered the ways Google Analytics may not be providing the entire data picture, it’s time to talk about where GA falls short in onsite analysis.

Heat mapping is a data visualization technique using bright colors (red) to represent larger values and cool colors (blue) to represent smaller values.

Simply put, it is a quick and easy way to see how customers interact with your web pages, as in what they click – or don’t.

Website heatmaps come in three types:

  • Click maps show where users click or don’t click.
  • Scroll maps show how far users scroll, by the percentage of all users.
  • Hover maps show the location and movement of a user’s cursor.

Digital marketers use heatmaps to understand a user’s behavior on a webpage. These insights are essential when you’re tasked with optimizing a page layout, improving UX, or increasing conversions.

While Google Analytics has a heat map (kinda), it is lacking all the bells and whistles paid services features. However, it will tell you where users are clicking and where they are not.

The thing is, you won’t find a heat map in your Google Analytics account. It’s actually a chrome extension called Page Analytics.

The product has been deprecated and is no longer receiving updates as of March 08, 2019. At the date of publication, Page Analytics Chrome Extension is still working for Google Analytics (standard) users. I have yet to find an easy solution for GA4 users.

There are just a few quick steps to seeing the Google Analytics real-time heatmap. First, you need to download Page Analytics by Google to your Extensions toolbar.

Next, log in to your Google Analytics and open a webpage associated with your GA account.

Lastly, don’t forget to enable (turn on) Page Analytics.

Google Analytics: Heatmap Extension

  1. Customize view metrics.
  2. Select Date Range.
  3. Select what action you want visualized: Clicks vs Goals.
  4. Select the minimum ratio to display.
  5. Select heatmap or annotation.

4. Social Media Monitoring

The last two things on this list are going to be about users’ interactions and conversations off-site that are really essential to successful marketing campaigns.

Social media monitoring is tracking information relevant to your business on social platforms; things like brand mentions, relevant hashtags, shared articles, and posts, etc.

Google Analytics can track actions and behavior on your website such as which social network users are referred from, which of your pages they land on, and whether they triggered an event.

GA can not tell you about user activity on social platforms like Facebook, IG, and Twitter.

If you’re handy with APIs, SharedCount provides social share analytics and insights. A free account can use up to 500 API calls per day.

This SharedCount screenshot shows my getting started with GA4 guide has 185 shares and 1.7k reactions on Facebook.

5. Lead Quality

Lead quality is the most difficult type of behavior to track because it generally happens offline. Things like sales calls and the content within form submissions are essential for determining the effectiveness of marketing efforts.

When it comes to quantifying lead quality, despite how essential this metric is, business owners rely on an overall “feeling” they get.

For offline interactions like sales calls and in-store visits, the best thing you can do as a marketer is to sit in on those calls to fully understand the customer.

For lead submissions, there are ways to “score” fields using Google Tag Manager. But unless you’re an Analytics wiz, you’re likely to find this confusing and time-consuming.

Maybe one day, we’ll see a tool that combines online and offline lead quality scoring that is more accessible to small business owners and provides better data for marketing professionals.

Final Thoughts

Google Analytics (GA) is an incredible free tool for marketers. Understanding how many visitors go to which pages and what actions take place are the building blocks of a successful digital marketing plan.

Just keep in mind that GA was not intended to do everything.

Google Analytics data is not retroactive, data may be sampled, there’s no heat mapping, and we can’t score offsite conversations such as social media mentions and sales calls.

With some tweaks and adjustments, it is possible to transform Google Analytics into a much more robust tool that can power some seriously great digital marketing campaigns.

I strongly encourage you to dig in and learn more about how to get, analyze and act on your digital marketing data.

Algorithm Update Rolling

Google’s June 2021 Core Algorithm Update Rolling Out Now

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Networking Bizz News

Google is releasing a broad core algorithm update today on June 2, 2021. This will be followed by another core update in July.

Google originally intended to pack more into today’s update, but couldn’t get everything ready in time. That’s the reason for releasing two core updates one month after another.

It’s exceedingly rare for Google to roll out separate updates so close together. However, the company says most sites are unlikely to notice the impact of either of them.

We’ll see over the coming weeks if that holds true, as it typically takes that long for a core update to fully roll out.

Google’s guidance on recovering from a broad core algorithm update remain the same.

With that said, try not to panic if your site is negatively impacted by the June update.

Don’t be too quick to celebrate if you see positive changes either, because it’s possible the impact of this month’s update will be reversed next month.

Sullivan elaborates on these statements in an article on Google’s blog explaining the why’s and how’s of core algorithm updates.

In it, he reminds site owners that updates aiming to improve the quality of search results are made thousands of times per year.

Not all updates are equal, however, and the impact of a core update is likely to be more noticeable than others.

What’s the difference between a core update and other updates?

Many updates to Google Search are focused on improving specific categories of results. An example would be the recent update to search results for product reviews.

What makes core updates different from the thousands of other updates is they involve broad improvements to Google Search.

When a core update is rolled out, which only happens a few times a year, substantial changes are made to Google’s ranking processes. Rather than targeting specific categories of sites, core updates target search overall.

To site owners who are impacted by a core update, Sullivan says it’s not because of anything they’ve done. It’s due to changes in how Google evaluates content to meet evolving user expectations.

Being negatively impacted by a core algorithm update isn’t necessarily a sign that a site has done something wrong, or that it’s producing bad content. It’s more a sign that what was considered relevant before may not be as relevant to today’s searchers.

Oftentimes refreshing existing content to improve its relevancy can turn a site’s rankings around. The changes will likely not be felt until the next core update, but recovery is possible.

What should I do if I’m impacted by this core update?

The June 2021 Google core update puts site owners in a situation they’ve never been in before.

A core algorithm update is currently rolling out, and another one is already confirmed for next month.

There’s no precedent for this, which makes it difficult to recommend taking any specific action until we see what next month brings.

Instead of reacting to any changes from this month’s update, look ahead to next month and focus on making your site the best it can be before the July core update.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about the page experience update rolling out in mid-June.

It’s going to be a tumultuous couple of months in search, to say the least.

 

Aspiring & New SEO Professionals: Tips for Success

Aspiring & New SEO Professionals: Tips for Success.

By | Networking Bizz News, Online Entrepreneur News

First, I want to say that embarking on an SEO career is exciting. It’s a profession that is fast-paced and always evolving.

While taking courses is a great idea to get started, there is a lot more you can do to learn the ropes.

Don’t worry, I’ll still answer the question about courses, but will give some extra tips, too.

1. Complete SEO Courses & Related Certifications

There are a lot of free SEO courses that will give you a foundation of knowledge. Below are a handful for you to consider:

  • Search Engine Journal’s SEO Guides: Search Engine Journal has two guides designed specifically for beginners, and they’re are packed with information from industry experts. If you haven’t already, get both of the ebooks SEO for Beginners: An Introduction to SEO Basics and A Complete Guide to SEO: What You Need to Know.
  • HubSpot SEO Certification Course: This one is free and includes 6 lessons and 23 videos. It covers a lot of the fundamentals, such as on-page optimization, keyword research, link building, and reporting.
  • Semrush Academy – SEO Fundamentals Course with Greg Gifford: This is a free course offered through Semrush Academy and taught by Greg Gifford. It includes 8 modules that incorporate videos, readings, and quizzes.
  • Google Analytics Individual Qualification: As an SEO, you are going to be spending a lot of time in Google Analytics and must be able to use it efficiently. To get certified, take the Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced Google Analytics courses. Then you can take the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. It’s well worth it!

Here is a more comprehensive list of SEO courses to check out: Best Free Online SEO Training Courses in 2021.

As you grow in your SEO career and learn more advanced tactics, you may find a specific area you want to focus on — Technical SEO, Link Building, or On-Page SEO, for example.

2. Create a Website You Can Use as Practice

Once you feel as though you have a good grasp on SEO practices, try out your new knowledge.

When I wanted to get more experience with SEO, I built my own site so that I could test the things I was learning.

Now, it was not the most aesthetically pleasing website, but it gave me hands-on experience understanding the basic and technical aspects of SEO. It also allowed me to test different techniques and was a great learning tool.

I recommend using WordPress as your CMS and to make it easy, find an existing theme you can implement.

Then, start applying your newfound SEO knowledge. Doing so will help you become familiar with HTML, optimization, and technical SEO.

If you are wondering what the website should be about, consider a blog on a topic you’re already interested in.

3. Watch Webinars & Listen to Podcasts

What I love about the SEO community is everyone’s willingness to share their knowledge and expertise.

There is no shortage of webinars and podcasts on a range of SEO topics. Even though I have been in SEO for a long time, I still tune in to learn from other experts in the field. Below is just a sample:

  • Search Engine Journal Webinars.
  • The Search Engine Journal Show.
  • Voices of Search.
  • SEO 101.
  • Bright Edge Webinars.

The following are not necessarily webinars or podcasts, but you will learn a ton!

  • Online Webmasters Office Hours Hangout.
  • Search Engine Roundtable Vlog.

Don’t Stop the Learning Process

In SEO, you are constantly learning. Continue to watch videos and listen to podcasts. Read daily, follow experts, and attend conferences.

You might even want to consider joining SEO groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Clubhouse.

Be sure to read How to Become an SEO Expert for even more success tips and cheers to your path in becoming an SEO professional!

Improve SEO With User Experience Factors

Improve SEO With User Experience Factors.

By | Networking Bizz News, seo advice for business

Focus on User Experience to meet the needs of searchers. It improves organic search marketing performance, helping websites rank well on the SERPs.

Google’s algorithm has consistently taken the user experience into account. For example, Google doesn’t rank directories because sending users from a page of 10 links to a page of 20 links is a poor user experience.

Thinking in terms of user experience can help with SEO because resultant strategies tend to align with how Google ranks websites.

Here are a few specific ways you can improve your SEO performance with user experience factors including Natural Language Processing, content creation, web design, and more.

Natural Language Processing.

Google’s recent technological breakthroughs like RankBrain and BERT are designed to help Google better understand what people expect to see when they type a search query. They also help Google understand what web pages mean.

An example is a shortcoming of their algorithm that was recently addressed. Google recently introduced their Passages algorithm that allows them to refer searchers straight to a relevant section of a long web page that contains the answer.

Previous to this update Google was unable to adequately rank long web pages.

This is an example of Google using machine learning to provide better answers based on what a web page is about. This is a huge step away from sending users to web pages that contain the keywords in a search query.

Google is understanding web pages in order to match the content as an answer to a search query that poses a question.

It’s not matching questions to keywords. Google is matching questions to answers.

Content Creation for User Experience

This has a profound impact on how web content is planned, with the focus shifting from focusing on creating content around keywords to creating content for users.

This is an example of imposing a user experience point of view on the content creation process.

One has to ask, “What does a site visitor want from this page? What are they trying to accomplish? What is it that they aspire to do?”

Literally, ask those questions and the answers become your content. This will then line up with how Google understands web pages and ranks those pages.

Of course, it’s important to first look at the top one to three positions in the search results and read the content to tease out what question those pages are answering.

Once you find a pattern, you can begin to understand what users mean when they type a particular search query. Once you know that, you can begin the process of writing content.

Content writing that extracts the meaning from the top ten to the top thirty of the search results is going to result in an irrelevant analysis because there will be too many mixed search intents.

Analysis of the top ten with a subsequent segmentation of the positions by search intent is a better way to understand what users mean when they type a search query.

Don’t try to mimic the words on search results. Remember, Google is only ranking the best of what it feels satisfies a query.

By copying the keywords used in a top-ranked webpage, you’re missing out on the opportunity to find a better way to satisfy a search query.

  • Old Way:
    Research top-ranked sites to extract keywords and write content with those keywords.
  • New Way:
    Research top-ranked sites to understand the latent question being asked and then provide a better answer.

What’s a Better Answer

The better answer is the one that tells and shows the user the how, why, what or when that they are looking for.

Sometimes that means creating custom images to illustrate your message. Sometimes that means communicating the message with a graph that gives a visual presentation to the data.

Use your imagination and ask yourself: How can I make this message any clearer to people visiting my site?

That’s the process of creating content with the user experience in mind.

Web Page Experience

Web Page ExperienceGoogle is introducing a small ranking boost for pages that can pass their Core Vitals Test. Core Web Vitals (CWV) measure a site visitor’s user experience.

In an ideal world, most publishers would already be optimizing web pages for a fast user experience.

But in the real world, publishers are limited by the bloated content management systems available to them.

Providing a fast user experience takes more than a fast server, too. The page speed bottleneck happens on the site visitor’s end where they’re downloading your page on a mobile phone through a 4G wireless network with limited bandwidth.

Creating a site with a fast download is good for users and better for publishers. More conversions, more page views, and higher earnings happen when a website optimizes its web pages for speed.

What can you do to create a better user experience on the page?

The first thing to do is visit your own site and read your articles in one sitting all the way through.

Then ask yourself if you feel like clicking through to read some more. If there’s a feeling of fatigue, there are reasons for that and they all relate to user experience.

How to Create a Better Web Page Experience

  • Break up your content into smaller paragraphs.
  • Use meaningful Heading Tags (accurately describe the content that follows).
  • Use bullet points and ordered lists.
  • Use more images that illustrate what you’re trying to say.
  • Choose images that are inherently lightweight (light shades, less colors, fewer micro details like gravel or leaves).
  • Optimize your images.
  • Replace images that cannot squeeze down to less than 50 kilobytes (or at least no higher than 100 kb).
  • Do not require a minimum word count from your writers.
  • Write content that provides useful answers.
  • Use graphs.
  • Test your pages on different mobile devices.
  • Minimize CSS and JavaScript, especially third-party scripts.
  • Remove CSS and JavaScript that provide functionality for things like sliders and contact forms when those features are not on the page.
  • If possible, reconsider the use of sliders.
  • Consider using fonts that are already on visitor’s computers or simply update your font to sans-serif.
  • Run your URLs through the PageSpeed Insights tool and follow directions for improvements.

Acknowledge & Mirror Your Site Visitors

Always seek out the opportunity to mirror your customer and site visitor in the images that you use.

Be diverse in your image choice. If your visitors tend to skew older and middle-aged, use images that reflect those users.

Do not make the mistake of mirroring yourself or those within your cultural bubble. Make your web pages welcoming for every segment of society that needs your information.

People tend to see themselves in the images that you use and it makes them comfortable to see themselves or people like themselves reflected in the images used in your web page (if it’s appropriate to use images of people!).

How Does User Experience Impact SEO?

Your Site VisitorsGoogle tends to rank sites that are relevant to user queries.

Google also tends to rank popular webpages that users expect to see because the goal is to satisfy users.

Creating a site that is frictionless and that people enjoy is one of the fundamental ways of building popularity with users. When people share about a site, what they’re really sharing is the experience they had with that site.

And those are the kinds of pages that people tend to feel enthusiastic about enough to tell their friends about, link to, and recommend. Sites that rank well naturally are the kinds of sites that users feel enthusiastic enough to link to and recommend.

Creating a positive user experience is one of the building blocks of creating good search performance.

From attracting links, increasing page views, improving conversion rates and earnings, a site can’t lose by focusing on the user experience.

 

Dynamically in Real Time Impact SEO

How Does a Page Built Dynamically in Real Time Impact SEO?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Dynamically generated pages, regardless of the platform, have been a challenge for SEO professionals for a couple of decades now.

How do you get pages indexed that don’t exist until they are needed?

New content management systems bring some new tricks to how pages are created but in the end, dynamic content is nothing new.

And there are several ways to handle dynamic content from an SEO perspective.

Dynamic Rendering:

The official word from Mountain View on how to create SEO value from dynamic content is a technique knows as dynamic rendering.

Dynamic rendering detects the user-agent of a browser or bot and serves up content specifically for that bot.

This allows webmasters to show Googlebot and other crawlers fully-rendered pages rather than an empty dynamic template.

Some of you may sense red flags here – is this cloaking?

Dynamic rendering is not cloaking.

It’s a completely white hat technique recommended by Google for dynamically generated content; specifically, single-page apps and progressive web apps.

However, if dynamic rendering is abused, it can be considered cloaking.

For example, if you use dynamic rendering to serve up content that is not the same or very similar to the content that a regular visitor would see, you could end up in violation of Google’s terms of service.

The best practice is to make sure the content served to specific crawlers is the same as the content seen by your typical visitors.

When you implement dynamic rendering, make sure to check the speed of the site on different user agents.

A common mistake many make when implementing this technique is creating slow-loading pages, particularly mobile versions of these pages.

Always check the page speed of your alternate, dynamically rendered pages.

I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of setting up dynamic rendering in the column, but Google’s Martin Splitt has an excellent video on the subject that you can see here.

Cannonball: An Alternative to Dynamic Rendering:

If you don’t want to mess with dynamic rendering, you can go “old school” and create what I call a cannonball.

A cannonball is when you create static HTML pages to represent the pages that would normally be dynamically generated.

Creating a cannonball can be very time-consuming, especially for sites with many dynamically generated pages.

But cannonballs work for getting content indexed that otherwise might not show up if the crawler can’t access the dynamically generated pages.

Typically, when using a cannonball approach, the dynamically generated content is hidden from the crawlers.

This approach makes sense when using heavy personalization on a site.

For example, a site where users log in and have personal account information dynamically generated while shopping or surfing would use a cannonball approach to show the crawler the pages without any personalized information.

You can also use a cannonball approach in conjunction with dynamic rendering if you just have a few dynamically generated pages that need to be indexed.

The downside to a cannonball approach is it can be very resource-intensive to maintain.

It’s easy for the content in the cannonball to be out of date, especially on a site where things change rapidly.

For example, if your pricing changes, you must make sure that the pricing changes on the cannonball pages, as well.

There are numerous software solutions that will help you to maintain your cannonball pages. However, be aware that not every tool works with every platform.

In Conclusion:

Dynamically generated pages can be a powerful part of the overall user experience.

But they do create some headaches for SEO pros.

Thankfully, workarounds like dynamic rendering and cannonballs can help ensure we can have dynamically generated content and show up well in the search results.

Ways SEO User Intent Can Drive Higher Lead Quality.

Ways SEO User Intent Can Drive Higher Lead Quality.

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, seo advice for business

Driving organic traffic to your site but not seeing enough conversions? Learn how user intent can help you drive more qualified leads.

To drive conversions, you need to know what your leads are searching for and deliver engaging content that resonates.

They shared how to leverage user intent to drive more qualified, high-converting leads.

Effective and engaging content addresses a searcher’s intent – but some businesses miss the mark in this area.

User intent is the main goal a user has when typing a query into a search engine.

For example, your AC cuts out in the middle of the summer, you search [24/7 HVAC repair] while your partner searches [AC repair near me].

While the keywords used for the queries differ, they have the same intent, or end goal, which is to have an HVAC unit repaired.

There are four common types of user intent, namely:

  • Informational.
  • Commercial.
  • Navigational.
  • Transactional.

But why does user intent matter?

Simply put: meeting a customer’s user (search) intent is Google’s #1 goal.

The results that Google returns for a particular search query mirrors the intent for that given keyword.

User intent needs is a crucial part of a successful SEO and content strategy.

Here are ways businesses can leverage user intent to inform their marketing.

1.Improve Customer Experience.

Customer-ExperienceIt’s great to rank for a query, but if users click on your content from the search results and fail to find the answers to their questions immediately, then there’s a high chance they’ll bounce from the page.

This translates to a lost opportunity to convert that visitor into a lead or a customer.

If Google sees that more users are leaving the page than staying to read and engage with your content, you might even see your rankings begin to drop.

This is what happened with a client of Bachmann and his team – a dental office that provides full-service and urgent care.

To address this issue, they decided to cut through the fluff in their website content and get to the most important answers.

They geared the messaging and content to answer questions and provide the next steps for a specific type of user – people in need of emergency dental care.

The adjustments led to great rankings, including the #1 position for “emergency dentist in Philadelphia.”

Not only did they find success in the SERPs, but it also brought them a consistent stream of highly qualified leads.

2.Leverage Data to Make Informed, Data-Driven Content Updates.

Generating new content isn’t the only way to meet users’ needs.

If you have a lot of content on your website that’s already gaining traction, being indexed by search engines, and ranking in the top 30-50 positions, it might be best to expand your content and make them better.

A variety of data sources can help you uncover insights on user intent and make informed decisions when it comes to your content – Google Search Console (GSC) is one of them.

Using GSC is a great way to:

  • Uncover what queries your site (or a particular page you want to rank) are getting impressions and clicks for.
  • Decide if your page actually does a good job of answering those user’s needs.

Segmenting your Google Search Console data to be question-focused will help you see what questions your users are searching that may be tied to your industry.

If you want to better rank in the future, you should aim to provide a clear, concise answer to those questions.

Looking at Google Analytics can also tell you a lot about whether your page is meeting people’s intent.

Does your page have a low time on page and high bounce rate?

This is another area you should investigate.

You may be ranking for something but when users get to your page they leave immediately because they are not getting what they thought your content has.

This is a big indicator that you need to make updates on your content.

Bachmann and his team encounter this issue often with several of their clients.

One client in the gambling niche saw the huge shift to mobile and online gambling as an opportunity to educate users who were trying to justify online gambling due to it seeming less dangerous than visiting an actual casino.

So they laid out tons of great stats, sources, videos, and infographics into one all-encompassing blog.

They ended up taking the #1 position for relevant terms such as “is online gambling dangerous”.

The client was able to get ahead of the curve and answer a lot of relevant questions that also contributed to boosting awareness of their brand.

This strategy also worked well for another client in the HVAC sector.

A lot of companies trying to rank for terms related to common HVAC problems tend to lean too heavily on the call to action “Call us today” instead of educating users on what may actually be happening.

Going against the norm, they put together a blog post that discussed multiple different kinds of smells for different problems with the aim to address everyone’s concerns.

The blog post has amassed nearly 100,000 visits since its inception, targeting a specific type of user intent.

The best part?

It ranks at the top of Page 1 with a featured snippet and converts at over 3% – which for a blog post for a local company is pretty unheard of.

3. Increase Time on Site & Conversion Rates

Increase Time on SiteUsers are skimmers – they’re coming to your site to get an answer or a need met.

It’s essential to be aware of how your users are seeing, engaging, and behaving when they’re on your website.

This is why you need to optimize your webpages to deliver the best experiences for real users, not just search engines.

You can gauge your web performance by tracking your Core Web Vitals metrics.

Another way to keep users engaged and increase the likelihood of conversion is to take advantage of proper page structure and layout.

By laying out your page in an organized and succinct manner, you not only make it easy to understand for users but also for bots crawling your site.

Using subheadings correctly and creating a nice flow of information will ultimately help the page rank and perform stronger.

Digital Marketing completely changed how companies

6 Online Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Digital Marketing completely changed how companies fight for the audience’s attention in the last years. Investing in online marketing for small businesses is democratic and brings a lot of benefits. With the right tools, you can create a low-cost strategy that demands only a small team to work, and have a big return in reach and awareness.

However, if promoting a brand on the internet is easy, it also means that there is a lot of competition. In this article, you will know more about:

1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

One of the most powerful ways of bringing constant visibility to your brand isn’t paid. This might sound a bit strange since mass media advertisement has been the main way of being seen for so long. But no paid ad today is as strong as seeing your website, product, or content at the top results when a consumer googles a related keyword.

Being well positioned in search engines is a way of getting organic traffic and building trust — since it is the first contact a person has with your brand.

After all, if your website is there, it means it is worth it, right?

Being at the top in search results isn’t paid, but SEO itself demands some investment, especially in the effort.

If you are small, the best thing to do is to work with a reduced scope and grow from there.

Your main approach will be getting smart about keyword planning. SEO is about user intention, content production, and link building — all of that around the words that are most likely to be searched by your buyer persona.

With a lower budget, you can begin with less common and more specific keywords. If you sell phones, for example, betting in the word “phones” isn’t the best strategy.

There will be a lot of companies, some of them really big, fighting for that spot. So how about finding more specific terms to work with?

Learn more about your persona and try to think like them. How would they search for a product they are interested in? What would they type?

Data intelligence can be the key to finding your niche.

2. Content Marketing

content marketingUsing content to promote your company is always part of a great SEO strategy. But it is much more than using the right keywords. Producing relevant, useful, and attractive content is how your brand builds identity, personality, and authority.

For those companies that can’t invest in sheer volume, the center of the strategy should be a blog.

There, you can share how-to guides, tips, ebooks, and everything useful to help a lead consider a product you sell. Frequency is important, so try to have at least 2/3 blog posts a week. You can use social media to boost your content’s reach and mix new pieces with reposts to keep your persona engaged.

3. Social Media Marketing

We talked about social media as an amplifier, but it should not be treated simply as a way to share and boost visibility. As everyone in those networks, your company is there to build relationships too.

It is always good to have someone dedicated to this role in the company — either an employee or an outsourced professional. Social networks demand constant interactions and following of trends.

But it is never that easy. Maybe you don’t have the team or the budget for it. What to do then? Again, it is time to be strategic. Investing in tools that automate and aggregate social interaction can be a good solution. Separating small intervals throughout the day to check profiles is also a great idea.

4. Local Search

local SEOIf your business has a physical attendance, Google my Business has become a great channel for your brand. You can use this tool as a location-based marketing effort.

Adding information about your company on Google my Business is easy and simple. There, you can share your contact information, your website, and even info about what you sell.

But the main focus here should be on user-created content: ratings, opinions, and photos. When a client posts those on Maps, they are included in your profile and shared with everyone searching for something in the area.

So you can ask for this kind of engagement on your website and via social media. You can also offer a reward in exchange, such as a dessert on their next visit if you are a restaurant.

5. Email Marketing

email marketingEven being invented in the 1970s, email is still one of the most prominent and used communication channels on the planet.

The great thing about email marketing is: it is almost solely based on automation. Unlike Social Media, you don’t need to have someone dedicated to it every day.

But it demands a lot of planning. The ideal Email Marketing campaign takes the buyer’s journey into account and anticipates the lead’s moves from interest to purchase decision.

6. Marketing Solutions and Services

Marketing solutions are technological platforms, automation tools, data analyzers, and social media monitors that help small teams with small budgets. So, they can manage campaigns way bigger than what they could do by themselves.

Marketing services are offered by companies with specialized talent and tools to help your business plan, execute, and measure the success of your strategies.

 

How to Write Content that Converts

How to Write Content that Converts

By | E Commerce Business News

Marketers leverage content for a number of reasons, from increasing website traffic to growing brand awareness and generating engagement.

But one of the main reasons is, quite simply, to get more of their audience to convert into customers. However, that’s easier said than done, especially in a very crowded marketplace where it seems (and rightly so) like there’s a sea of content to compete with.

  • So, how do you write content that converts?
  • How can you get people to take action after reading your content?
  • And ultimately, how do you generate a positive ROI from your content marketing strategy?

In this blog post, discover 7 essential tips to help you write content that converts:

Step 1: Know your audience

Are you writing content for your audience, based on their needs and wants? Or are you writing content based on what you think they need and want?

Because there’s a big difference between the two and it’s so easy to forego this important step when creating content.

Your goal as a content marketer is to find out what issues and pain points your audience has – then, you can use that to create powerful content that helps them achieve the results they want and therefore:

  • Increase trust in your brand
  • Give readers a reason to come back to you for more content
  • Give them a reason to subscribe to your newsletter and engage with you on other channels as well and ultimately, give them a reason to convert

Step 2: It’s all in the headline

You’ve probably heard this time and time again – but your headlines are so incredibly important, it really bears repeating.

After all, it’s as simple as this: if your headline isn’t getting people’s attention and interest, then they’re not going to read it. And if they’re not going to read it, then you’re not going to increase your conversions either.

So, don’t leave your headline as an afterthought because it has a massive impact on your click-through rate and traffic, as well as on your conversion rate.

Step 3: Learn to structure your content and increase readability

While online content has definitely improved a lot over the last few years, I still often see content that’s simply not readable enough – even if the information provided in them is good.

The thing is, it’s not just about providing value; it’s also about creating content that’s easy to read through and makes you want to keep reading.

Considering that, here is a checklist to use every time you write content, in order to increase its readability:

  • Use the introduction to relate to your reader’s problems and/or clearly explain what the content is about and what they’ll get out of it.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs, as well as bullet points and lists.
  • Break down your content with subheadings.
  • Use more visuals throughout your content.
  • Avoid using jargon: Always use language that your audience will understand.

Step 4: Include content upgrades to generate more leads

An easy “trick” to increase lead generation from your content is to include content upgrades. It’s probably one of the most effective ways to grow your email list quickly.

But first, what exactly is a content upgrade?

  • It’s a lead magnet created specifically for a blog post or piece of content.
  • And what this means is that you’re essentially creating highly-targeted lead magnets.
  • And because they’re so well-targeted, it means that readers are more likely to opt-in.

Here are some of the best-performing types of upgrades you can include in your content:

  • PDF versions of your content (particularly for high-value, long pieces of content, such as how-to guides)
  • Checklists
  • Templates
  • Cheat sheets
  • Reports
  • Worksheets
  • Case studies
  • Formulas
  • Courses
  • Infographics

Step 5: Track and measure your results consistently to increase your conversion rate

marketing strategiesIn order to increase your conversions from your content, you need to closely track your content marketing results so that you can understand:

  • Which content generates the most conversions
  • What types of content generate the most conversions (listicles, how-to guides, content with interactive content and so on)
  • What common traits there are between your best performing pieces of content
  • Which headlines get the most clicks and traffic
  • Which content doesn’t generate enough results
  • You can find all this out by using your web analytics.

Conclusion

  • Writing content for the sake of it – a.k.a. filler content – can’t get you the results you want and need.
  • Instead, you need to create carefully-crafted content that’s highly targeted and offers huge value.
  • That’s how you grow your traffic, engagement, and perhaps most importantly, conversions.

 

Why Is Internet Marketing for Local Businesses so Important?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

An attractive storefront on a heavily-traveled street used to be the enough to build a loyal customer base. These days, people walking down the street are too busy looking at their smartphones to notice your business. The customers who have bought from you for years already trust you to deliver a superior experience, but non-customers need more convincing. Internet marketing can help.

Maybe that buyer knew about your business but trusted one of your competitors because of how that business presented itself online. Unlike traditional marketing, which is all about driving sales, online marketing is also focused on gaining trust and making consumers feel good about buying from your business. Hard selling techniques still work on occasion, but consumers are more likely to notice businesses that appeal to them with free advice, useful tools or entertaining distractions.

They’re also more likely to gravitate towards businesses that interact with them as people and not revenue streams. Social media, mobile, email and other online marketing channels make these interactions possible, which is why local businesses that market online perform better than those that don’t.

Now that you understand why internet marketing is so important, it’s time to start using it. So how can you generate more sales, attract more customers and stand out from local competitors online? Here are some ideas that may result in a larger local following:

1. Claim your local listings

Consumers who want information about local businesses often look to sites like Google and Yelp, because they provide reviews from other consumers. In order to make the most of this, and to keep tabs on what people are saying, make sure to claim your listings on those sites. Be sure that your company’s address, phone number, email, and website are all correct, and then add a few photos of your business and offerings.

2. Create a mobile-friendly site

Earlier in this article, we mentioned that many consumers use their smartphones to find businesses to patronize. But if you hope to catch their attention (and their business), they need to be able to easily find and browse your site. That can only happen if your site is mobile-friendly.

If your site isn’t accessible on whatever device a potential customer is using, they’re likely to get frustrated and leave it. Because of this, you may want to consider using responsive design, which will make your site usable on all devices. Responsive design is also seen as mobile-friendly in Google’s eyes—and now that mobile-friendliness is a ranking factor, that could potentially mean increased visibility for your site.

3. Provide useful content

Today’s consumers expect more than great products and services from the businesses they buy from. Many of them look to brands and companies for advice and useful information. For example, a frequent customer at a boutique may want employees to tell them what’s in style.

The best way to do this is by providing the information online. You may think it’s a bad idea to give away knowledge for free, but look at it this way: if you’re an accountant, your potential customers may use the Internet to search for things like “how to do taxes” or “real estate planning advice.” Information about these topics is probably online. But if you are able to provide an answer, and one that’s better than all the others, those potential customers will see you as a valuable source of information—and may even call you when it comes time to hire an accountant.

4. Do local SEO

While some users go to local directories to find the products and service they need, many others rely on with Google and other search engines to provide them names of local businesses. So, for example, let’s say that your own a shoe store in Memphis. It would clearly be in your best interest to show up in the results whenever someone searches for, “shoe stores in Memphis.”

In order to do that, you need to do local SEO. By optimizing your site to rank well for both your business type (restaurant, bar, shopping, etc.) and your neighborhood, town, or city, you can increase the chances that the people who are actively looking for businesses like yours have no trouble finding you.

Mobile Site Experience Matters Now More than Ever

Mobile Site Experience Matters Now More than Ever

By | Website Design Advice

Mobile website experience has mattered for quite some time now, but the importance of a strong mobile experience only continues to rise. What is mobile site experience, exactly? Your site needs to be:

  • Mobile-friendly – Can the site be navigated without needing to pinch to zoom or scroll sideways?
  • Fast to load – Will your site load before users are compelled to click back to their search?
  • Easy to use – Can users find what they’re looking for?

Good mobile site experience is no longer a competitive advantage, it’s essential to your performance in search.

Mobile Is the New Desktop

It’s no surprise with as much as we’re all connected to our phones that a lot of searches occur from mobile devices. As early as 2015, desktop traffic was surpassed by mobile device traffic, and it hasn’t slowed down since. As of February 2021, mobile devices make up over 54% of traffic worldwide:

In 2015, 61% of mobile device users were more likely to contact a local business if their site was mobile-friendly. Nowadays, if your site isn’t optimized for mobile, not only are you less likely to get leads, you’re less likely to appear in search to begin with.

From Mobile-Friendly to Mobile-First

Google first clearly indicated that mobile experience impacted search results with their mobile-friendly update that rolled out in April 2015. At this point in time, users began to see different search results on desktop and mobile devices to cater to users’ needs. Site content was still number one, so sites with poor mobile performance could still rank well, even number one, without a mobile-friendly site.

Taking it to the next level, Google began experimenting with mobile-first indexing in 2016. That essentially means Google looks at the mobile version of sites when evaluating content to rank and appear on Google. By December 2018, half of the pages shown in results globally used mobile-first indexing. Prior to this shift, Google was looking at the desktop version of sites when ranking content, but because the majority of Google users were now accessing Google search on a mobile device, the mobile experience became a priority.

The default for new sites switched to mobile-first indexing in July 2019, but the transition for existing sites was significantly less immediate. Switching the entirety of the web to mobile-first indexing has taken years. In mid-2020, Google announced they experienced setbacks from their original goal of mobile-first indexing for all sites across the web by September 2020. As of the end of March 2021, Google’s rollout should be complete, and desktop-only sites will be dropped from Google’s index.

So, What Makes a Good Mobile Site Experience?

Having a mobile site is not enough anymore. Instead, you have to have a site that is truly optimized for mobile devices. Many elements contribute to the overall experience on your mobile site:

Content Is Key

When mobile sites first gained popularity, it wasn’t uncommon to provide users different (or less) content on mobile compared to desktop to keep mobile sites simple. But with the complete rollout of mobile-first indexing, your mobile site’s content now needs to take precedence.

Google’s John Mueller has made it clear that Google is indexing only the content that exists on the mobile version of a site, and desktop content will essentially be ignored. Want your site’s content to rank in Google search? Ensure the mobile version of your site reflects that content, or Google will gloss over it.

If you employ less content on your mobile site and your site has made the switch to mobile-first indexing, you may have seen a decline in rankings or overall site performance, as Google is no longer seeing the additional content on your desktop site. Essentially, your mobile site is now the primary version of your site, and you should treat it as such.

Mobile-First Design

Sites optimized for mobile come in different shapes and sizes. Both mobile-friendly and responsive site designs are characterized by the ease with which one can use them from a mobile device. A mobile-friendly site functions the exact same on desktop and mobile devices. While you may be able to click on elements easily, sites that are only mobile-friendly aren’t designed with the mobile user in mind. These sites meet Google’s standards and can be less time-consuming to build.

Social mediaResponsive site design varies the appearance of a site based on the size of the browser or device it is viewed on. Responsive sites reformat the content on a desktop site to accommodate the needs of mobile device users because the behavior of mobile device users is different than that of desktop users. Responsive sites not only meet Google’s standards for mobile sites, but they utilize their layout to appeal to mobile users. With today’s shifting landscape, many design teams have started to employ a “mobile-first” approach to designing websites, focusing on elements like conversion rate.

Flash plugins, pop-ups, and elements that are too hard to reach on a mobile device can ruin your site’s mobile experience for a user. Not convinced your mobile experience matters? 75% of smartphone users expect to get immediate information while using their smartphone. If your site doesn’t measure up or is too difficult to navigate, users are likely to hit “back” and choose your competitor instead.

Marketing with Mobile in Mind.

B2B Lead Generation – 6 Tips and Strategies for 2021

B2B Lead Generation – 6 Tips and Strategies for 2021

By | Networking Bizz News, Online Entrepreneur News

A lead is not just a random potential client. It’s the one that is only a step away from you. All you need is to grab their attention, provide value and prove that your service will solve their problem.

Generating quality leads is the backbone of a good B2B marketing strategy, and establishing a strong pipeline will ensure you maintain a steady growth rate. And B2B marketing is a lot different compared to B2C.

We’ve found that using a combination of inbound and outbound is generally the best way to go about establishing this pipeline – while outbound is a more immediate way of connecting with leads, your inbound can be used to establish your credibility, resulting in more qualified leads coming to you. Here are the most effective lead generation strategies in B2B marketing.

Search engines can be one of the best tools for marketing any business. If you have success with SEO, you’ll gain new customers faster and essentially for free. To win the SEO game, you should have a strong content marketing strategy that provides information that your target audience will find value in.

1. Content Marketing

content marketingThis is an amazing option for companies that have interesting content to share: articles, videos and so on. To make it work you should do very profound research to know what kind of language you should use; what content your clients would enjoy; whom they listen to etc.

2. Social Media Marketing

Social media lets you refine your lead generation process as it allows for a more targeted approach. 62% of marketers believe that social networks like LinkedIn are proven to be effective in generating leads. It gives businesses and brands a platform where they can engage with potential customers.

Also, social media advertising is very effective, especially nowadays that it’s very rare to meet someone who doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Ads placed on these sites are highly targeted because you can set up the location, age, gender, and interests among many others.

You can generate lots of leads through social media but it’s not easy and takes a well thought out strategy.

3. PPC – Pay-Per-Click

digital adsSEO and content marketing definitely takes time. PPC is of the easiest ways to get results quickly. It can be super effective if you know who your target audience is. However, it can also be very expensive depending on the industry you’re in.

It’s also important to remember that a lot of people are using Adblock (or other programs) nowadays, so there is a possibility that they won’t even see banners or other clickable ads. Or because of the GDPR laws, they might simply opt-out of your advertising altogether.

4. Build Your Email List

Old pitches like “Sign up for our newsletter” just don’t work anymore because the truth is that nobody reads newsletters anymore. They want content personalized to them. Laser-focused, point-solving, specific content that meets their interests and needs.

Cold emailing is hard because you have no prior relationship with the company or person you’re sending it to. So you have to make a good first impression to get results. Here are a few things we recommend to see more leads from cold emails:

  • Be creative to stand out from the crowd. Include things like animated GIFs or memes to catch people’s attention.
  • Be funny! Life is boring enough as it is. Sometimes humor can go a long way.
  • Get straight to the point and don’t spam people with marketing lingo. Many simply ignore this.
  • Send at least 2 follow-up emails. Just like social media, things tend to get lost in people’s inboxes. Sending two or three emails gives you a better chance of getting seen.

5. Asking Questions to Get a 50% Conversion Rate

Except for Facebook Messenger, quizzes are the latest fad in lead generation strategies. And the best part is that it’s not a mainstream strategy – yet.

Surveys are inexpensive to run, are flexible when it comes to the types of questions you ask and are more dependable thanks to anonymity and your customers like them!

We recommend setting up easy to use multiple choice based questions, this will not only make it easy for the customer to fill out but will also take the guesswork out of the equation.

6. Gain Trusted Backlinks

We all know a word of mouth referrals are the best customer! When you have someone raving about your business you’ll gain immediate trust and confidence in your product.

The second best referral is a trusted website sending their clients your way. This is called a backlink – when a trusted website is referring customers back to your website.

There are numerous ways to build backlinks and gain trust from other websites. You can:

  • Write blogs for other companies.
  • Have other websites share your content.
  • Get on a websites resource page.
  • Provide infographics other businesses will share.
  • Get free backlinks if people copy your images.
  • Write amazing content that people actually want to link to.

Summary

B2B lead generation is hard because you can’t just copy and paste a strategy that works for someone else. Stuff that works like crazy for one business might fall completely on its face in another business.

The key is finding a strategy that works for you, and in most cases, the foundation of effective lead generation is some form of content. It all comes down to knowing your audience and how they interact with your business.

Digital Marketing Strategies

2021 B2B Digital Marketing Strategies That Will Grow Your Business

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

The digital era has revolutionized how B2B digital marketing and communication work. Today, every corporate must adopt a fluid approach and work on digital marketing strategies that will exceed customers’ expectations. When it comes to businesses being your audience, you have to have a different approach to promotions and advertisements.

What do you mean by B2B digital marketing strategy?

All the digital marketing strategies, campaigns, and content creation for businesses and organizations is known as B2B marketing. It is a fluid approach that an organization uses to sell services and products to other businesses. In a B2B digital marketing strategy, one does not focus on an individual consumer but a whole organization for desirable outcomes.

Successful B2B digital marketing strategies for your business

A marketing approach varies from audience to audience. B2C marketing is definitely different from B2B marketing and every B2B digital marketing campaign is different. Reaching your target audience requires the use of business-appropriate strategies that work for you, not others.

Let’s take note of different effective B2B digital marketing strategies:

Targeting Demographics

If you do not have the audience segmented, you are doing it wrong. The first and foremost, step is to focus on the right audience. Your digital marketing campaign is a waste if you are not prioritizing potential buyers over the general audience.

With a strong B2B digital marketing strategy, it’s possible to concentrate and target the core audience and limit your premium marketing material to potential buyers. Try creating buyer personas, jot down their likes, dislikes, keep track of their buying habits, and see how they respond on social media platforms.

Invest in a responsive and credible website

Any business with no website in this era seems skeptical. A website is more than presenting the audience with information. It’s a visual presentation of your personality, your business’s selling approach, your product’s quality, and your customer service.

An unresponsive and blank website scares the customers away. An engaging and interactive website is one with compelling content, visual graphics, positive reviews, testimonials, your address, service info, the story behind the business, and so on.

Allocating budget for pay-per-click (PPC) Campaigns

PPC campaigns target a new audience and utilize different platforms to advertise your website and to spread your content to new users. Of course, you have to have a budget for it but it is a digital marketing strategy B2B that we can vouch for. PPC campaign is an effective tool when it comes to generating leads, increasing conversion rates, and building business awareness.

What can you get out of using social media platforms?

Here are some useful things you get out of maintaining an active social media presence:

Current industry Trends

Want to know what’s working out and failing for your competitors? Use social media platforms to prosper your business in the industry. Eventually, you will learn to go by rules and current trends.

Information about new-ins in the industry

People talk about everything on social media. Search for relevant keywords to know all about hot topics/products in the industry.

Get to know the current buyers’ issues

People are social enough to address their problems on social media. Observe all the problems that people are addressing. A close inspection of buyers’ issues allows you to work towards a pain point solution.

The marketplace of your service/product

Want to know your product’s worth and place in the market? Head over to social media platforms and read all the reviews thoroughly. Get valuable feedback and updates from customers. You can also observe complaints regarding your product/service and improve in the time being.

Get positive feedback

One good thing about Facebook is that you can get all the feedback you want in terms of reviews. All the reviews are mentioned on your page. Thus, making it easy for you to read them.

Make whitepapers and case studies accessible to the audience

Social media platforms allow you to publish case studies, in-depth reports, and whitepapers on your page so that future buyers can see how you work professionally and carry out document work. Posting case studies provide evidence that you provide each customer with a solution pertaining to their problem.

Improve credibility through video testimonials

Your marketing strategy is outdated if it does not include video marketing. Product videos, client testimonials, and demonstration videos have become an integral part of marketing for every business. It improves an organization’s credibility and builds trust among the audience.

Easy access to demonstration videos

Reading book-long instructions and losing oneself in demonstration manuals is what the customers hate. Nowadays, customers want easy demonstration videos to get started with the product right away. Social media allows you to provide links that redirect a buyer straight to short instructional and demonstration videos.

Survey buyers and audience

B2B digital marketing strategy is data-driven. The only way to target the right audience is to review and survey them. How can you know accurately a buyer’s interests, likes, and dislikes without reading their opinions on your product or service?

You gather tons of data and new information through review applications and surveys. Other than that, surveying your buyers means you are insightful and serious about your product’s marketplace and the audience’s feedback.

Video marketing

Videos go more viral than pictures. More than 65% of the internet audience claims to be visual learners. Videos are inspiring and incorporate an organization’s story better than text. It urges the audience to take immediate action.

Online referrals

Gone are those times when people spent hours sharing promotions. It is a digital era where referrals come from strangers and clients. A business must not stop at reviews and testimonials. Providing social proof of one’s reputation can make you a thought leader of the industry. Online referrals by strangers increase brand recognition.

Redefining target audience mid-campaign

You can observe analytics to fine-tune your digital marketing campaigns. For instance, the Google analytics tool lets you find out the results of the campaign. If the results are not desirable, you can change the target audience mid-campaign.

Content of email newsletter

Email newsletters provide users with information on general topics relevant to the industry. Subscription to the email newsletter is free and you can even add the element of advertising to promote your brand.

Conclusion

Unless you keep your target audience in mind, your B2B digital marketing strategy can’t produce results. Your marketing should reflect how you can help other businesses and provide them with viable solutions.

 

4 Ways You Can Use Landing Pages as Your Digital Storefront

4 Ways You Can Use Landing Pages as Your Digital Storefront

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Most people don’t go out shopping just to shop. They typically have a product in mind with the intent to buy. So when faced with an empty store with no signs in the windows, or a well-designed store with a huge sale sign in the window for the exact product they’re looking for–they’re most likely to enter the latter.

First impressions are everything, even in the digital era where sales are transitioning online. Yet, while every customer is unique and requires different offers and engagement, it’s unrealistic to expect brands to create entire websites for every user.

They can, however, create unique digital storefronts for each one.

What is a digital storefront?

In the digital world, your landing page serves as your storefront–your main avenue to making a great first impression, and a vital contact point for a customer, setting the tone for the entire relationship and transaction.

For example, online shoppers often search Google by keywords to find the specific product or service they’re looking for. Searching for exact terms indicates high intent, which helps brands target interested buyers.

The problem: a brand could have the perfect product or service to meet that consumer’s needs, but if it’s not advertised properly, a good relationship won’t form and a transaction will never happen.

Using post-click landing pages as your online storefront offers an opportunity to provide a unique value proposition to highly segmented personas in a professional and credible way. It allows you to present your brand as an authoritative, relevant, and trustworthy source within your industry.

Remember, though, a digital storefront is a direct representation of your business–for better or worse. If your landing page is cluttered, unorganized, and unprofessional, the visitor will likely bounce immediately. If it’s conversion-optimized, you’re more likely to capture their attention and convince them to convert.

It’s important to take a look at your electronic storefront to see what it says about your business. As inspiration, here are four ways brands use various landing pages to attract consumers’ attention, entice them to engage with the page, and pursue the offer.

4 Ways to use landing pages as your digital storefront

Squeeze pages

Squeeze pages provide good reason and an irresistible offer to visitors in exchange for their information. Here’s one that PaintShop Pro uses to capture visitors’ attention and show them why they should purchase before they leave the website:

The page serves as a digital storefront because:

  • “New version available” let’s visitors know they don’t currently have the best/newest option and entices them to upgrade.
  • Bulleted lists and bold copy provide important information in an organized, easily-digestible way.
  • Only one offer keeps visitors focused and on track toward conversion.
  • No exit links makes it less likely that visitors will bounce, and more likely they’ll redeem the offer.
  • The blue CTA button contrasts well with the orange, black, and white page.
  • A click-through format makes the form non-intimidating for prospects to complete on the next page.

Sales pages

  • A strong headline explaining exactly what the offer is and what visitors are supposed to do.
  • The image slideshow showing exactly what the magazines look like.
  • A contrasting CTA button so visitors can easily find it and order a subscription.
  • 1:1 conversion ratio so visitors are focused only on one goal.

Lead capture pages

Lead capture pages are a third way to use post-click landing pages as a storefront by focusing primarily on the lead capture form like Drip does:

  • A straightforward headline that highlights exactly how the company can help prospects.
  • A bulleted list expanding on how Drip can improve customers’ email marketing.
  • A lead capture form above the fold and surrounded by white space to entice visitors to convert.
  • Testimonials to show that other customers have seen success with Drip.
  • G2 awards to show credibility and trustworthiness.

Retargeting landing pages

Freshly uses a retargeting landing page with an exclusive offer as their digital storefront, to entice prospects who have already shown interest in starting a subscription and might need a little incentive:

Elements that make this post-click page a great storefront include:

  • An attention grabbing headline and subheadline announcing an exclusive discount offer for prospects who may need extra convincing.
  • High-quality images of Freshly meals.
  • Time and quantity scarcity, letting visitors know they must redeem the offer before meals are sold out, and before the “limited time offer” expires.
  • A short form and enticing CTA button, so prospects can quickly and easily claim their discounted meals.
  • Numbered benefits of Freshly to persuade visitors why they should convert.
  • Ratings and testimonials to prove that others are satisfied with their subscriptions.

Create an attractive digital storefront with every landing page

With online shoppers’ high intent to buy, it’s important you make a great first impression with your digital storefront. By taking a customer-first, hyper-personalized approach to your landing pages, you can turn them into attractive, enticing storefronts to guide traffic in the direction you want and drive higher returns for your business.

 

How to Use Facebook Reactions in your Digital Marketing Campaigns

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Just as the “like” button features into Facebook’s algorithm, reactions are also vital to social media campaigns. Facebook measures all reactions equally when evaluating posts. What this means for marketers is that Reactions are just another way to engage with customers. These icons are a hub of useful information. Reactions are much more descriptive than a simple “like” and allow marketers to see how customers “feel” about their posts. Facebook gives companies access to a clearer picture of what their customers like and what they love. Adverse reactions also help brands to overcome consumer problems and protect their reputation. With Reactions, brands can adapt and refine their messaging to evoke the desired emotions they most want to see.

facebook marketingFacebook Reactions represents a unique engagement metric for companies, as emotions are the key driver behind most purchasing decisions. For digital marketing and social media campaigns, Facebook Reactions can:

1. Show which emotions promote the most conversions

There are countless emotions involved that drive customers, both positive and negative. Anger can be a powerful motivator, particularly in certain industries and non-profit organizations.

2. Highlight potential advocates

People who regularly react with the “love” reaction may be ideal for evangelism and influencer campaigns.

3. Support optimization

Measuring negative or “angry” reactions allows you to create a list of topics and content to avoid. Facebook Reactions can be a powerful addition to a reputation management strategy.

By adjusting a common engagement metric, the “like” into something more nuanced, Facebook makes it easier for you to analyze how your customers feel about your brand. With Facebook Reactions and the right social media tools, companies can dive deeper into each campaign’s successes and failures.

seo pasadena website design

As Reactions continue to evolve, the real question for marketers will be how to best use the new data streams, and even whether to separate them at all. Are all Reactions just likes that have been sorted? Or should some of the Reactions be worth more than others (like loves vs. likes)? Personally, I think one of the most intriguing opportunities Reactions will present marketers is targeting specific emojis with their posts, and analyzing whether such attempts are successful.

Brand Resources for Facebook Reactions

Reactions are an extension of the Like Button to give people quick and easy ways to share their reaction to a post.

To ensure consistent and accurate use, never alter, rotate, embellish, or attempt to recreate the Reactions. Never alter the shape and proportion of the Reactions (and surrounding UI) for any reason. Reactions are not emojis or individual icons, and they cannot be used in this way. It is important to show these reactions in the same way as they are intended to be used on Facebook – as a quick and easy way to express how you feel. Use Reactions only as they appear and exactly how they function within the context of Facebook UI. Reactions cannot be used for creative purposes. Only use Reactions as a collection – do not use them as individual icons or as the most prominent feature of your marketing.

New Reactions for COVID-19

In March 2020, Facebook added a new Care emoji reaction as an additional option in response to COVID-19. It is displayed similarly to a hugging face holding a red love heart. This Care emoji is not available as a standardized Unicode emoji and can only be used in reactions to Facebook posts.

 

4 tips to help you succeed with Instagram SEO

4 tips to help you succeed with Instagram SEO

By | seo advice for business

Instagram SEO is the process of optimizing your content in order to rank your profile higher in the Instagram search results. And though it may not have the same appeal as live streams or carousel ads, it’s as worthy of your time as anything else. By following Instagram SEO best practices — which we’ll discuss shortly — you improve your chances of being discovered by users who are searching keywords related to your business.

Why is Instagram SEO important?

It is important because it enables you to connect with people who are actively searching for content related to your business.

Think of it this way: Each time a user types in a keyword that’s related to your business, you have an opportunity to make a positive impression and drive high-quality traffic to your profile (and your website). Instagram SEO is the key to capitalizing on these opportunities — the key to engaging prospective customers who are more likely than others to convert.

That’s all well and good, but there’s a crucial question we need to address: Do people actually use Instagram to interact with businesses in this fashion? Is it really worthwhile to optimize your content in order to rank higher in the search results?

Yes and yes. According to AdEspresso, more than 200 million Instagram users visit a business profile on a daily basis. 66% of those visits come from users who do not yet follow the profiles they’re visiting. Plus, 60% of all Instagram users say they’ve learned about new products through the platform.

Evidently, many people — your prospects included — see Instagram as a way to discover new businesses, new brands, and new products.

To be fair, searching for specific keywords is only one of several ways that users discover new businesses. Instagram ads drive discovery, and the Explore tab does, too. Instagram SEO, in other words, is not the be-all and end-all.

It is, however, the only way to organically connect with prospects who show an active interest in your content/business. Ads are not organic, and they do not connect you with proactive prospects. Discovery via the Explore tab is organic, but, again, there is no element of proactivity.

Now that we understand the value that Instagram SEO presents to marketers, here are four tips to help you successfully execute it at your company.

As we walk through these tips, keep in mind the ultimate goal: Getting your profile and individual posts to rank as high as possible for the keywords you care about.

1. Identify and prioritize your keywords

keywordsWhich keywords do you want to rank for? An answer to this question is absolutely necessary before you make a single change. Head terms (e.g., gardening) are searched frequently, and they typically indicate low commercial intent in the mind of the user. Long-tail keywords (e.g., gardening ideas) are searched infrequently, and they typically indicate high commercial intent in the mind of the user.

Which is more important to you: increasing traffic to your profile, or driving more conversions? If it’s the former, you’re probably going to prioritize head terms over long-tail keywords. If it’s the latter, you’ll likely do the reverse.

You could argue that these two objectives go hand-in-hand— i.e., you want to increase traffic to your profile in order to drive more conversions. It’s a fair point, and most of you will end up optimizing your profile/content for both head terms and long-tail keywords. As we’ll discuss shortly, however, not all optimizations carry the same weight — and that’s why it’s important to establish your priorities from the jump.

2. Establish KPIs to measure impact

There’s one more question you need to answer before you start optimizing: How are you going to measure the impact of your Instagram SEO efforts? Measuring impact is an essential part of the process, as it enables you to determine which optimizations are (un)successful.

To set yourself up for success, make sure to establish a few key performance indicators (KPIs). With Instagram Insights — the native analytics tool that comes with your business profile — you can track KPIs such as these (both at the profile level and the individual post level):

  • Impressions
  • Reach
  • Profile visits
  • Followers
  • Website clicks
  • instagram-seo-metrics
  • Via Social Media Examiner.

Once you know which KPIs you’re going to track, you’ll be able to measure the impact yielded by your optimizations.

3. Optimize your profile (username & bio)

Now that you know (1) which keywords you’re going to target and (2) how you’re going to track your ROI, it’s time to optimize both your profile as a whole and your individual posts.

Let’s begin with your profile as a whole — we’re going to optimize your username and your bio. (Remember when we said not all optimizations carry the same weight? Well, your username and your bio are the heavy hitters; optimizing these two assets can make a huge impact). Your username is straightforward: You need to incorporate the keyword you consider most valuable. Clearly, the person who owns a profile wants to rank for the similar keywords

Optimizing your Instagram bio is equally straightforward: This is your opportunity to target any high-value keywords that didn’t quite make the cut for your username.

4. Optimize your individual posts (captions & hashtags)

  • Use the main body of the caption to target a specific high-value keyword
  • Use hashtags to reinforce that keyword and target ancillary keywords

Don’t neglect Instagram SEO!

Instagram SEO is a no-cost, high-impact tactic for anyone who wants to grow their reach, increase traffic to their profile/website, and drive more conversions. It may not yield the same volume of results as paid advertising, but the potential ROI is staggering. If you’re committed to using social media as an engine of growth for your business, Instagram SEO is a no-brainer.

The SEO Blueprint That Every Business Should Use

The SEO Blueprint That Every Business Should Use

By | seo advice for business

Every week this year I’ve been talking 1-on-1 with business owners, marketing managers, and marketing consultants about their SEO strategy. My key takeaway?

There is still a lot of confusion out there about SEO.

Here are just a handful of the frequently asked questions I hear:

  • Where should I start if I’m new to SEO?
  • What should I do after my site is “optimized”?
  • Should I be making edits each month to the same pages or is that “over optimizing”?

How many words need to be on a page in order for it to rank?

After walking through the same step-by-step process over and over again on calls, I’ve decided to publish this article in an attempt to clear the air once and for all.

You see, there is a proven SEO blueprint that literally every business should use. Sure, the nitty gritty details will change depending on your business and your situation, but the blueprint remains the same.

It’s similar to the basic blueprint for building a house. You know you need a strong foundation, walls, a door, windows, and a roof. The architecture and design may vary widely across homes, but the basic elements and process stay the same. And that’s true for SEO as well.

Before we dive into the blueprint, it’s important to take a step back and review a marketing concept I’m sure you’re familiar with…

The Marketing Funnel

The classic marketing funnel that is wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. Something like this:

At the top of the funnel you have prospective customers that aren’t quite ready to buy; They are researching or browsing online to learn more in order to eventually become ready. Then at the bottom of the funnel you have your prospective customers that are ready to buy; They have done their homework and they’re now searching in order to pull the trigger.

Now let’s tie this back to SEO…

At the top of the funnel (ToFu), searchers are researching. They are looking for information that will allow them to make an informed buying decision. In other words, they are searching using research-intent keywords.

At the bottom of the funnel (BoFu), searchers are looking to buy. In other words, they are searching using buying-intent keywords.

And that leads us to the first key takeaway of this article…

SEO Is All About Search Intent: ToFu vs. BoFu Keywords

SEO mobileResearch-intent keywords are phrases searched by prospective customers at the top of the funnel (ToFu). Buying-intent keywords are phrases searched by prospective customers at the bottom of the funnel (BoFu).

Unfortunately, there is no tool that will tell you if a keyword has research-intent or buying-intent. To determine the search intent of a keyword you need to ask yourself, “Is a person more likely to be researching or looking to buy when searching this keyword?”

For many keywords, the answer will be obvious. For example, “what is a dental implant” is a clear research-intent keyword. Alternatively, “implant dentist near me” is a clear buying-intent keyword. Easy enough right?

Well, some keywords are not so obvious and when that’s the case I recommend you search in Google to see what’s being highlighted. Google is constantly testing and altering their search results to give searchers exactly what they want. So if Google is showing a lot of informational articles at the top of the search results, then chances are good the keyword has more research intent. If Google is showing businesses and products at the top of the results, then you’ve typed in a buying-intent keyword.

OK, now that you understand search intent, we can move on to the second key takeaway…

Your Pages Must Match the Search Intent

This should be fairly obvious, but it’s worth repeating. You must match the content on your pages with the search intent of the keyword.

In practice, that means you’ll optimize a product or service page for buying-intent (BoFu) keywords and you’ll optimize informational articles or blogs for research-intent (ToFu) keywords.

To take this a step further, the amount of content and the layout of these pages should also match the search intent. Ah, I can see the lightbulbs going off! Google knows that when someone searches “massage therapist near me,” then that person doesn’t need a 2,000 word article. However, if that same person searches “massage techniques for back pain” then a 2,000 word informational guide makes sense and deserves to rank higher than a 200 word service page.

At this point, you have the basic SEO knowledge to dive into the SEO Blueprint…

Phase 1: The Foundation

Like building a house, you must start by laying a strong foundation for SEO. And it starts by optimizing for the buying-intent (BoFu) keywords.

For many (probably most) businesses, this will require building new product, service, and category pages that you may not already have on your website. For example, if people are searching for a specific service and you don’t currently have a page dedicated for that service, then you’ll need to build that page.

You’ll know you’ve completed phase 1 when you have built and optimized pages for all of the relevant buying-intent keywords for your business.

Many people I talk to mistakenly believe this is the end of the road for SEO work… However, the reality is that this is just the tip of the iceberg!

Phase 2: Building Up and Up and Up…

As mentioned above, Phase 1 work has a start and finish because you likely have a finite number of product and service pages to optimize. Of course, when you introduce a new product or service, you’ll need to restart at Phase 1 each time.

In contrast, Phase 2 can likely go on forever. To understand why, we need to take a closer look at the pages you’ll optimize for research-intent keywords. The informational pages you’ll need to build fall into two distinct groups:

Evergreen pages – This is information that does not change much over time. For example, a guide highlighting massage techniques for back pain would be an evergreen page. The content will not need to be updated much every year unless a brand new technique is introduced.

Generally I recommend building a “Resource Center” section on your website where these pages will be published.

Time-sensitive pages – This is information that will only be relevant for a specific period of time. For example, an article about an upcoming massage class you’ll be teaching will only be relevant before the class starts. Blog articles work well for this type of content.

The sheer volume of relevant research-intent keywords (remember the large top of the funnel) means most businesses will never create all the evergreen opportunities, which is one reason Phase 2 lasts so long. Plus, there will always be opportunities to publish time-sensitive content.

As you build more and more of these pages, you’ll have more opportunities to rank in the search results and also more opportunities for other websites to link to your pages. This is how SEO traffic can start to snowball over time.

Now you may be wondering, how do you convert research-intent traffic into leads and sales? The reality is that those prospective customers aren’t ready to buy and an informational article isn’t going to do a great job selling.

That brings us to the final key takeaway of this article…

Your Offer Must Match the Search Intent

When you’re in Phase 1 optimizing product and service pages for buying-intent (BoFu) keywords, then your offer is going to be to buy or inquire about your product or service. In this case you know the prospective customer is ready to buy, so it makes sense to present your sales offer.

However, when you’re in Phase 2 optimizing informational pages for research-intent (ToFu) keywords, then you’re not likely going to convert with the same offer. Remember, these prospective customers aren’t ready to pull the trigger and buy yet. That means you’re better off presenting a free offer in exchange for an email address.

For e-commerce businesses, coupons are a great option to collect email addresses. For other businesses, you may need to be more creative by offering a guide, checklist, demo, or something else with enough perceived value that a prospective customer will happily give you her email address in exchange. From there, you can use email marketing to follow up, educate, and nurture until those prospective customers are ready to buy. And who do you think they’ll go to when they’re ready to buy?

Scroll up and take another look at the marketing funnel. The largest part of the funnel is at the top where prospective customers are searching research-intent keywords. If you’re only optimizing for buying-intent keywords, then you’re missing the largest part of your market!

To cast the widest net, you need to complete both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of SEO. Start by optimizing your product and service pages. Then build relevant informational pages, a compelling free offer, and an email marketing program.

The 4-Part Framework for Digital Marketing Success

The 4-Part Framework for Digital Marketing Success

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Did you know there are 4 parts, or pieces, that every successful digital marketing campaign must have?

If you’re missing or deficient in any of these 4 areas, then your marketing will fail. It’s really that simple.

That leads us to the first key concept here…

Digital Marketing Is A Lot Like Assembling A Puzzle

That’s right, digital marketing is just one big puzzle waiting to be assembled one piece at a time. But there’s one big difference. With marketing, you don’t have the finished picture on the box to show you where and how the different pieces will eventually fit together! That certainly makes marketing a lot harder, doesn’t it?

That’s why in this article I’m going to give you that finished picture. I’ll walk through the proven digital marketing framework so you can see how all of the marketing options available fit together to create a successful marketing plan.

First, The Foundation

Before we dive into the framework, I need to highlight how digital marketing actually works. If you break it all down to the individual pieces, then digital marketing follows a very basic formula:

(Revenue) = (Website Traffic) x (Conversion Rate) x (Customer Value)

In other words, revenue from digital marketing is directly proportional to how many people visit your website, how many of those people convert into customers, and how much those customers are worth to your business.

Or to put it another way, there are 3 ways to increase your revenue from digital marketing: increase your traffic, increase your conversion rate, and/or increase your customer value.

Also, before we move on it’s important to remember that your revenue will be zero if any one of those 3 variables is zero. That’s just basic math. It doesn’t matter if you drive millions of visitors to your website if your conversion rate is zero. You’ll still end up with zero revenue!

Now that you understand this formula, it’s time to introduce the framework, which I call the 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success. These are the 4 Pillars every business must continually try to improve to compete online.

Pillars of Digital Marketing Success

1. Website Traffic

The first Pillar is website traffic. Obviously, if you don’t get any traffic to your website, then you’re not going to be very successful with digital marketing. If you’re just getting started, then this is where you need to focus.

Think of website traffic like fuel.

You need a constant supply of “fuel” or else your marketing will come to a screeching halt.

2. Website Conversions

As I mentioned above, all the traffic in the world does nothing for your business unless you can actually convert it into leads and sales. For established businesses that already have a steady stream of visitors, improving website conversion is likely the biggest leverage point to increase sales.

Here’s a quick example to highlight this point…

Let’s say your website gets about 1,000 visits per month and of those visitors 5 of them convert into sales. That’s a 0.5% conversion rate. What happens if you can increase your conversion rate to 1%?

You’ll double your sales with the same traffic you’re already getting to your site! That means you would double your sales with no more investment in traffic tactics like advertising, SEO, social media, etc.

3. Customer Value

Customer value is often the X-factor in digital marketing, yet many businesses ignore it. Again, I’ll use an example so you can see how your customer value plays a role in your marketing.

Let’s say your conversion rate is 0.5% and your average customer value is $100. That means, on average one visitor to your website is worth $0.50.

That also means you can not afford to pay more than $0.50 to drive a visitor to your website. If you pay more than 50 cents, then you’ll lose money.

What happens if one of your competitors has the same conversion rate, but a slightly higher customer value of $150? Well, this competitor can afford to pay $0.75 and will inevitably be able to buy more traffic than you. Even though the competitor may have the same offer, a similar website, and the same conversion rate, they’ll dominate the market due to their higher customer value.

Options for increasing your customer value include raising your prices, offering recurring/monthly offerings rather than just one-time purchases, and offering additional complementary products/services after the sale (upsells and cross-sells).

4. Tracking

The final Pillar is tracking. Without proper tracking in place, then you’ll be flying blind with very little hope to improve the other 3 Pillars.

Think of tracking like the dashboard of your car. Could you imagine driving if you didn’t have a speedometer or a fuel gauge? That would be pretty stressful because you wouldn’t know if you needed to slow down or speed up. Plus, you would likely run out of fuel with no warning signs.

Proper tacking will guide your marketing decisions by telling you exactly where you need to focus.

 

2 Questions to Find Your Best Sources of Website Traffic

2 Questions to Find Your Best Sources of Website Traffic

By | seo advice for business

With digital marketing, there is certainly no shortage of hype about all the different tactics to drive traffic to your website. There’s SEO, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn, YouTube, email marketing…

My point is, there’s a lot to evaluate and determine what’s best for your business. One of the most common complaints I hear from business owners is that they are simply overwhelmed. Understandably, they don’t know where to focus their time and resources to maximize their marketing budget. And unfortunately, that often leads to inaction.

To create a successful digital marketing plan, you need to be strong in the following 4 areas:

  • Website Traffic: Getting prospects to your website.
  • Website Conversion: Converting website visitors into paying customers.
  • Customer Value: Increasing the lifetime value of your customers.
  • Tracking: Tracking your marketing channels so you know what’s working and what needs to be improved.

You might want to write those down on a notepad. I call these the 4 Pillars of Digital Marketing Success because they establish the foundation for your marketing. If you’re weak in any one of those areas, then you’ll struggle to create profitable marketing campaigns. There’s no way around it, you need to focus on all 4.

In this article, I’m going to address the first Pillar, website traffic. More specifically, how to determine your best traffic opportunities.

And there are 2 questions…

Question #1. Where’s My Prospect?

The first question is where are your ideal prospects hanging out online? Are they searching in Google and Bing? Are they watching videos on YouTube? Do they spend a lot of time on Facebook or are they more active on LinkedIn? Are they reading articles on news sites?

Put yourself in your ideal prospect’s shoes. What would you do if you were in need of your particular product or service?

This is important because not every source of traffic is a good opportunity for your business. For example, I worked with a medical device company that sold a product that most people do not know exists. Since few people know it exists, very few people go to Google to search for it. Logically, that means search engine optimization (SEO) and search advertising are not good options for that business. They are simply not going to drive any sales.

It’s obvious once you ask this first question, but that’s not often where we start. I catch myself doing this all the time. I listen to the media and get caught up in all the hype about a certain tactic and instantly believe it’s where I need to be focused. Fight that urge! Always ask first where your ideal prospects are, and make sure the tactic will, in fact, reach them.

Question #2. Are You Offering Catnip or Cat Food?

Have you ever seen a cat go crazy after just a few licks of catnip? It’s hilarious. Reminds me of scenes from Dazed and Confused.

What’s most interesting about catnip is that it only affects cats. If you have both dogs and cats and you open up a container of catnip, then your cats will come scurrying from all corners of your house. Your dogs may look up curiously, but then they’ll go right back to whatever they were doing.

Round puzzle table

In other words, catnip is the absolute perfect bait if all you want to do is attract nearby cats. If you compare that to cat food, then you clearly see the difference. When you open up a can of cat food, then any hungry animals nearby (cats, dogs, and even rodents) will come to check it out.

What does this have to do with marketing? A lot actually. When you’re considering a source of website traffic, then you need to ask this question: how can you create a bait like catnip that only attracts your ideal customer, rather than cat food that could attract a flurry of unqualified prospects?

For example, I recently talked to a business owner that caters to parents of children about to go to college. Her prospects are going to Google searching for information so search advertising makes sense. However, there’s a big problem. There is no guarantee the person searching is the parent — so a lot of the ad budget could be wasted on children clicking on the ads.

Does that mean search ads are a bad idea?

Not necessarily. Sure, advertising a general “cat food” type ad that would attract both parents and children would be a mistake. But you could also create a “catnip” ad that speaks directly to parents (and even repels children) so that you do not waste money on irrelevant clicks.

 

3 Key Factors to Be Successful With SEO

3 Key Factors to Be Successful With SEO

By | seo advice for business

I have a distinct memory in high school when one of my friends held up a wrapper that had the company’s website printed on it and we all thought it was so funny for a company to have a website. I mean, what was the point? Who was going to visit a company’s website?

Granted, this was way back in the 90’s when our understanding of the Internet was that it was only good for school research, instant messaging with friends, and downloading all the music you could ever want from Napster (sorry, not sorry, Metallica!) Little did I know we were about to experience a huge shift in how businesses would market their products and services.

One result of this shift is the growing importance of search engine optimization, or SEO. Another result is increased competition because the barrier to entry, to create a website, is now so low.

It’s a lot like the running boom in the 70’s. In 1970, the first New York City marathon had a whopping 127 registrants. In recent years, there have been more than 50,000 finishers!

To put that into perspective, even if I came in dead last in 1970, I would have placed 127th. To place 127th now, I’d need to be among some of the best marathon runners in the world.

And that brings me to the first key takeaway in this article…

SEO Gets Harder Every Day

Ranking on the first page of Google gets harder and harder every day. Just like how it’s harder to rank among the top 100 marathoners simply because there are so many more competitors today than there were decades ago.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that just because more businesses have websites doesn’t mean they are all actually competing in SEO. Sure, they are “in the race,” but in my experience auditing hundreds of client websites, the majority of businesses aren’t really “in the race.”

Bear with me because I’m about to reveal the second key takeaway…

The Difference Between Running and Racing

Since 2011, I’ve completed 9 marathons, but if I’m honest with myself, I’ve only raced 2 of them. The other 7 I was just trying to finish. I didn’t realize this until after I trained for racing a marathon and then actually raced one. The difference is night and day. This was a huge revelation for me and it parallels how I see most businesses approaching SEO.

The most obvious difference is the sheer volume of running it takes to race a marathon. If you want to just finish, then 25 to 30 miles per week is enough. Heck, I’ve even heard of people who didn’t train much at all and they still managed to cross the finish line.

But if you want to race, then you’ll need to get up to 50+ miles per week. That’s just what it takes to get your body prepared for 26.2 miles of running hard the entire course.

With SEO, as I said earlier, a lot of businesses simply can’t compete because they aren’t investing enough time and resources. It’s the equivalent of running 25 miles per week and thinking you’re training hard. Without running more miles each week, the result is that you’ll hit what’s called “the wall” around mile 20 and you’ll be shuffling or walking or some combination of both for the next 6.2 miles.

Same is true with SEO. Without enough resources invested, you’ll hit “the wall” and never get on to the first page.

Intuitively that makes sense, but the next logical question is, “Where should you invest your resources?”

Great question! Let’s take a look…

Variation Keeps You Healthy

SEOI’ve studied training programs for several professional marathoners and, in addition to higher weekly mileage, they vary their workouts day-to-day and week-to-week. One day they’ll focus on speed, the next day they’ll slow way down and focus on recovery, then the next day they’ll focus on endurance, and on and on they go with different types of workouts designed to improve one area that’s important for running marathons.

Studies have shown that alternating different types of hard workouts and recovery is the recipe for success with marathon training. Alternatively, overly focusing on one area like speed or endurance is the recipe for injury.

And the same can be said about success with SEO – you must use a mix of tactics, such as meta tag edits, website structure, site speed, schema, mobile optimization, content development, outreach, guest blogging, citations, online reviews, and so on. Overly focusing on just one area at the expense of the others will not likely lead to positive results.

There’s one last takeaway before we conclude…

Injuries Are Inevitable

Research has shown that up to 50% of runners get injured each year. The reality is that if you’re pushing your body, you’ll inevitably wind up injured at some point.

With SEO, drops in keyword rankings are also inevitable. When this happens, it’s important to assess the “injury” and determine the root cause. Have you taken your foot off the pedal with blogging? Have you ignored online reviews recently and let the door open for a competitor to sneak in?

Once you determine the root cause, then it’s time to start rehabbing. As long as you’re serious about your SEO and willing to put in the work, then there’s no “injury” you can’t overcome. It just takes dedication and a little bit of patience.

By now, I hope it’s clear what it takes to be successful with SEO…

Website Is Not Converting Traffic Into Sales

3 Reasons Why Your Website Is Not Converting Traffic Into Sales.

By | E Commerce Business News

In business, every position has a defined role. Salespeople sell. Customer service ensures customers are happy. The product development team improves the product. And the list goes on and on…

But what about your website? Have you clearly defined the role of your website in your business?

I would argue your website is simply another member of the sales team. That means it’s responsible for selling or converting website traffic into leads and sales. That also means you should analyze your website’s performance like you would review a salesperson’s performance.

If someone, or in our case your website, is struggling in sales, then here are 3 key questions to ask that will help you pinpoint the problem.

1. Are You Talking To The Wrong People?

In sales, it’s absolutely critical that you focus your time and attention on qualified prospects. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get frustrated and burnt out talking to people who never end up buying from you.

The same thing happens with your website every single day. If you’re getting 1,000 visitors to your website each month and no one is turning into leads and sales, then the first question to answer is, “Are these visitors really qualified prospects?”

If you dig into Google Analytics and see that half the traffic is international and you only sell in the US, then it shouldn’t be a surprise that your conversion rates are low. Or if you see that the majority of your traffic is from a funny, mostly unrelated video that was shared on social media, then again, you shouldn’t expect that traffic to be converting.

In other words, the first step to assess low conversion rates is to confirm you’re talking to the right people. If you’re not, then there’s no sales trick in the world that will help you.

2. Are You Presenting The Wrong Message?

OK, let’s assume we know your website visitors are in fact qualified prospects. Next, we need to check your message.

A great salesperson knows there is no one-size-fits-all sales presentation. Instead, you must match your presentation to your audience. If you’re selling to a room full of mothers, then your presentation will be different than if you’re selling to a room full of college boys. You may even dress differently in order to connect more closely with each audience.

Now take a look at your website. Are your webpages presenting a message that matches each type of visitor? With digital advertising, you can control this more easily using unique landing pages that precisely match the targeting of your ads.

With your organic traffic, I recommend offering options for your visitors to self-select so you can then direct them to unique pages that match the audience. For example, you could add buttons on your website that say, “Click here for women’s XYZ” and “Click here for men’s XYZ” so you can tailor the next page for each gender.

3. Are You Confusing Your Prospects?

Finally, if you know you’re talking to your ideal prospects and you’re presenting the right message, then it’s possible you’re overly complicating the sale. This is especially true with digital marketing where your prospects can click away in a split second if they ever get confused.

When you’re selling face-to-face, it’s easier to pick up on clues (like glossed-over eyes) and then switch course to get the sale back on track. But with your website, your clues are not as obvious. In fact, they are buried in Google Analytics.

One clue is to review the top Exit Pages on your website by going to Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages. Those are the pages where your visitors are exiting your website.

Why are they exiting? Again, if you know the visitors are qualified prospects and you’re presenting the right message, then chances are good those visitors are exiting your website because they are confused. Take a close look at those pages and wherever possible, simplify the layout and copy.

Remember, your website’s role in your business is to generate leads and sales. If you’re not happy with your website’s results to-date, then it’s time for a performance review using the 3 questions above. When you fix these issues, then all of your other digital marketing results will, in turn, improve as well.

7 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

7 Benefits of Social Media Marketing

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It is undeniable that social media is a must-have marketing strategy across all businesses and industries. This is not surprising as 73% of marketers believe that their efforts through social media marketing have been “somewhat effective” or “very effective” for their businesses.

Brands are continuing to include social media in their marketing strategy – and for all the right reasons.

Let’s take a look into some of the most common reasons why companies invest in social media.

1. Brand awareness

brand awarenessFor many business, social media channels are used to increase brand awareness and build trust among prospects and existing customers. According to research, 44% of local businesses say they depend on social media to generate brand awareness, and 41% depend on it to drive revenue.

2. Website traffic

Social media platforms are one of the leading sources of website traffic. According to 90% of marketers, their social media marketing efforts have increased the exposure of their business, and 75% say they’ve increased website traffic.

3. SEO

Social media engagement is one of the off-site SEO components of the Google’s Ranking Algorithm. In other words, more engagement on your social media profiles can go a long way in improving your SEO and organic rankings on search engines.

4. Sales

Managing salesFor some businesses, social media is the most efficient source of new leads and customers. This is especially true for B2C companies. Moreover, 21% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that they can reach on social media, and according to GlobalWebIndex, 54% use social media to research products.

5. Customer loyalty and advocacy

According to another research, 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend it to their friends and family. Therefore, many organizations use social media to build a base of loyal customers and brand advocates.

6. Conversion rates

Some social networks have great conversion rates which is why they are used for lead generation. HubSpot analyzed more than 5,000 businesses that use Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to generate leads. The results were astonishing.

LinkedIn dominated the visitor-to-lead conversion rate with an impressive 2.74%. Facebook and Twitter were far behind with rates below 1%.

Therefore, marketing and social selling on LinkedIn are considered some of the most powerful B2B tactics for generating new leads and closing new customers.

7. Cost effectiveness

Social media advertising can be much more cost-effective compared to other forms of advertising such as Google Ads. According to research, cost per lead on LinkedIn is 28% lower compared to Google Ads, and it offers incredible targeting capabilities that are particularly useful for B2B businesses.

7 Simple Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

7 Simple Ways to Increase Social Media Engagement

By | Social Media News

1. Take a good, long look at your posts.

People are busy, and they check their social accounts on the go. For now, Twitter’s character limit forces marketers to be brief, but brevity is just as important on Facebook and LinkedIn. But it’s not enough to just think about what you’re communicating on social media — you have to think just as critically about when you say it.

In general, B2B customers are on social media in the early afternoon, and weekdays are the best days to catch them. There’s a lot of research on the best days and times to post on social media platforms, but you ultimately need to stay attuned to when your audience engages most often.

2. Use visuals.

Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social than other types of content, so including it in your social posts is a must. And as Millennials continue moving into positions of greater purchasing power and decision-making within companies, using visuals to appeal to them will be critical.

3. Give a shout-out to clients and partners.

Spread the love when you share content on social by tagging clients or partners in your posts. If you mention a client or a partner’s business in an article, tag the client or company in your post to give a shout-out, increase your reach, and improve your chances for engagement. If your team uses and loves a product or service, let others know you find it valuable, and tag the business in your post.

4. Facilitate and engage in conversations.

The idea behind social media is to encourage social interaction, establish trust, and build relationships with others, and that can only happen when you and your audience actually engage in meaningful conversations. Use social media for more than just general updates. Add value to your followers, and start conversations with them. By doing this, you’re humanizing your brand and your company, which makes trusting relationships come more naturally.

5. Use polls and surveys.

Not only do the results from polls and surveys give you valuable information about pain points and problems, but they also give your audiences the chance to give their feedback and feel heard. This communicates to them that you’re interested in what their needs and interests are. And if you offer an incentive, such a discount or a piece of gated content that’s worth the download, you can gather even more useful information.

6. Get creative with hashtags.

If you can come up with clever word combinations, use them as often as possible. Ask your audience members to use your hashtags, and you can also use theirs in your posts.

7. Don’t ignore analytics — dig deep into them.

The administrator of any social media account has access to analytics. When you access the data and comb through reports, you can gather critical information, including who is connecting with you, when your followers are most engaged, and what types of posts perform better. Use that insight to tailor your social strategy and optimize your efforts. Track your efforts, analyze your successes, and, above all, listen to your audience.

A social media strategy should increase not only the number of followers your business has, but also the quality of those followers. Your goal should be to attract the people who are most likely to find your message valuable and continually engage with them. A strategy like this takes effort, but if you set aside time each week and concentrate your efforts on your most active, valuable platforms, you can increase your social engagement.

Ecommerce Sales Funnel

Five Ways to Innovate Your Ecommerce Sales Funnel

By | E Commerce Business News

As more and more small businesses are going through digital transformation, there’s an emerging demand for new ways to attract and engage customers. As online shopping is becoming a norm, both the competition and customers’ expectations are quickly growing.

How to create a more effective ecommerce sales funnel? Here are few fresh ideas:

1. Revamp your product recommendations

Cross-selling (that is, showing related products on all stages of the sales funnel) is one the most important – yet often neglected – components of the sales funnel.

Did you know that cross-selling accounts for more than a third of Amazon’s revenue? Based on the public company’s data, 35 percent of what people buy on Amazon comes from product recommendations based on AI-driven algorithms.

No wonder Amazon is using cross-selling all over the site – from product pages. All of these cross-selling blocks are included on a single product page.

Cross-selling comes in many forms, including:

  • Personalized upsells: These usually show up on product pages to urge the customer to buy something they didn’t initially intend. These can be driven by the customer’s prior buying habits or the buying habits of other customers who have bought the current product
  • Product bumps: Showing matching products right on the checkout page
  • Email-driven upsells: Automated emails sent immediately after you pay encouraging you to buy more to add to the same delivery

2. Make your customer support part of the sales funnel

customer care repThe ideal buyer’s journey looks like this: They land on a product page, add it to a shopping cart, submit their payment details and wait for the product to arrive.

Obviously, it doesn’t always look like that. Customers’ journeys are often interrupted, and in many cases, they are interrupted by customers themselves who get distracted or come up with questions they need answers to before completing the purchase.

The truth is, no matter how well you set up your knowledge base, many people will still want to contact your customer support team before buying. This is where lots of buying journeys may be interrupted unless you set things up properly.

Set up email follow-ups

Any customer interactions should be recorded and there always need to be personalized follow-up based on the customer’s action (i.e. whether they ended up completing the purchase or not).

Depending on your current CMS platform, you may already have access to email automation that would allow personalized follow-ups.

Brand your customer support team’s emails

Remember – Your emails mean to bring your customer back to your site. It needs to revive the interrupted buying journey, so links to your site are essential. At the bare minimum, add a clickable logo and a detailed email signature prompting your customer to take an action.

3. Mind your brand-driven search query

What is it that tends to interrupt your buyers’ journey? If it’s not reaching out to your customer support, it is usually:

  • Checking your product reviews
  • Looking for your coupon codes or special deals

To better understand your customers’ journeys outside of your site, research your branded keywords (i.e. those keywords that contain your or your product name). Google Suggest is a good place to start:

These are all as-you-type search suggestions that may impact your customers’ journey. Make sure your pages and off-site assets rank #1 for all of these.

Start viewing all of these queries as part of your sales funnel. Do you have a landing page (or landing pages) that would do a good job getting people to continue their journey on your site? Or do you rely on third-party sites to do that? The latter is not the wisest decision. Remember that these queries are often used in the middle of the funnel (right before your customer completes their purchase), so this should also be reflected in the copy.

4. Create search intent-driven copy

Whether your landing (i.e. product) page relies on organic traffic or not, using search intent to drive your copy creation is a good idea. Semantic-analysis-driven search intent analysis is the only method we have to predict customers’ expectations prior to being able to analyze the actual user on-site behavior.

Semantic analysis will help you understand your customers’ journeys better:

  • What is it they may be looking for and where may their research take them?
  • Which products may they also be interested in?
  • How to catch their attention better?

All of these questions can be answered by semantic research. Text Optimizer is the easiest tool to use here: It will grab Google’s search snippets returned for your target search query and return underlying concepts that will help you create a better-targeted copy or copies:

It is also a good way to rank your pages higher in Google, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

5. Analyze your sales funnel

Finally, monitoring your sales funnel is a must, obviously. While conversion monitoring is not usually included in SEO metrics, most SEO analytics platforms can provide sales funnel analysis. As such, Google Analytics provides a comprehensive conversion tracking that includes sales funnel visualization.

To start, use this guide to set up conversion tracking in your Google Analytics

Then, proceed to Conversions -> Goals -> Funnel Visualizations to analyze your sales funnel:

Google Analytics will show where your customers are heading instead of completing their buying journeys.

Don’t forget the basics!

Fundamentally, it all comes to providing a user experience that customers want to return to. That being said, the more happy customers, the better!

So while working on your sales funnel, don’t overlook the basics: Keep an eye on your customers’ feedback, monitor your brand mentions, and always strive to optimize a better customer experience.

Conclusion

Innovation is an integral part of digital marketing. Global lockdowns have changed shopping behaviors dramatically and increased demand for digital transformation and innovation. Hopefully, the above steps will help you make your eCommerce sales funnel more effective.

3 Simple Ways to Boost E-Commerce Sales

3 Simple Ways to Boost E-Commerce Sales.

By | E Commerce Business News

Your website may look great… but it may also be hurting your sales.

Why? Because it wasn’t build with your audience in mind.

Here were three fixes:

1. Website speed.

Speed matters. Up to 40% of people will leave a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. Lots of things may slow a website down—including widgets, videos, and invisible problems like excess coding. These are things you can work with your developer to solve for.

2. Content that answers questions.

Your website may describe your products—but does it answer your customers’ most pressing questions? A FAQ page is great, but that’s just the start. When you create blog-like content that answers the questions your customers wonder the most, your site will come up in their search engine results—leading to more interest, and more sales.

3. Constant calls to action.

Every page on your site, and every piece of content, should drive a customer to take some action. Maybe it’s a sale—or maybe it’s simply signing up for an email list, or engaging with a customer service representative via chat. You always want to think, ‘What’s the next action I want [a user] to take?’ And then lead them down that path.

Pricing Objectives What They Are and Why You Need One

Pricing Objectives: What They Are and Why You Need One

By | E Commerce Business News

Pricing objectives are an essential component to consider when pinning down an ideal price point. What you charge for a product or service can’t be chosen indiscriminately. Having no idea why you’re choosing a certain price point makes that point, well, pointless.

It means you don’t have a clear idea of what to expect from your pricing strategy or what your company stands to gain from it. Without an objective, you’re throwing prices at the wall and seeing what sticks — and that’s no way to do business.

That said, landing on a pricing objective isn’t always straightforward. And the one you go with typically rests on a variety of factors — elements like timing, broader business goals, market position, and financial circumstances can all have a place in making that decision.

Ultimately, your pricing objective will be specific to your company’s needs and interests — but there’s a good chance it will revolve around some common ends. Here are some of the more prominent examples of pricing objectives.

1. Improving Retention

customerCustomer retention — the sum of a company’s efforts to keep its existing customers on board — is an essential, cost-effective process that any growing business needs to prioritize. And successfully implementing a strategy to improve yours often has a lot of layers.

Doing the practice right involves aspects like providing exemplary customer service, investing in a solid customer success team, or creating customer loyalty programs. But the avenues you can take to improve customer retention aren’t limited to those more directly interpersonal elements — and the effect pricing can have on retention is a testament to that.

Maximizing retention is a popular pricing objective. If you elect to go this road, your prices will probably be tailored to retain the prestige of your product without raising prices to the point of alienating current customers — that generally translates to keeping prices relatively consistent.

2. Maximizing Profit

Maximizing profit is one of the most popular, conventional pricing objectives. And that makes sense — it’s not exactly revolutionary to point out that businesses that don’t make money generally don’t survive.

Businesses who typically go this road do so by raising prices and cutting costs wherever possible — ideally to see significant improvements on return on investment (ROI). Pursuing this particular pricing objective often comes at the expense of sales volume or general revenue.

This pricing objective tends to manifest itself in a couple of different ways. In some cases, a business might be interested in maximizing short-term profit, acquiring users without being too mindful of potential churn down the line. Or, a company will make long-term profit their objective — In which case, it will price with more careful intention.

3. Increasing Sales Volume

costSome companies set and modify their pricing strategies to maximize sales, setting prices specifically dedicated to fostering immediate, meaningful growth. In some cases, the endgame is getting a business off the ground — carving out a piece of a market and settling in.

In other cases, an already-established business might be interested in claiming or maintaining a specific share of its competitive landscape — strategically adjusting its prices to account for shifts and fluctuations that could alter its place in its market.

And sometimes, companies might adjust their prices to make concentrated pushes to maximize their market share. In these cases, their pricing objectives are still set with intention — but are a bit more indiscriminate than they’d be otherwise.

4. Matching Competitors’ Prices

Sometimes a business needs to make a product or service more competitive within its broader market. Maybe, the sales volume that company is raking in isn’t what they’d like it to be — it could be losing out to lower or higher priced options.

In that case, simply matching competitors’ prices is one of the more effective pricing objectives a business can pursue. This goal’s underlying premise is relatively straightforward.

It doesn’t take much guesswork and effort to identify and mirror what a competitor charges. But its simplicity doesn’t necessarily undermine its efficacy — it can be an excellent way for businesses to gain a competitive edge within their industries.

5. Shifting Brand Image

brand awarenessPricing has a significant impact on how consumers perceive a business. Ideally, higher prices create an air of prestige and luxury, while lower ones signal value. But public perception doesn’t always shake out how companies want it to.

Certain prices or pricing models might leave a business with an image it’s not particularly happy with. In those instances, companies might look to raise or lower prices to capture and project fresh brand identities — ones that they believe their target consumers will be receptive to.

At the end of the day, you can’t gauge the effectiveness or legitimately understand the nature of your pricing strategy without a clear goal for it in mind.

How to Start a Side Hustle Take the First Step

How to Start a Side Hustle: Take the First Step

By | Online Entrepreneur News

The answer is so simple that it’ll sound stupid: You make the decision to begin. Everything stems from a commitment to take the first steps. You can make excuses all day — too busy, too tired, too cash-strapped — but remember that nearly half of U.S. workers already have some kind of side hustle. They have struggles, too. But they’re pushing ahead. Here are the steps that helped me get going, and that can help you, too.

Step 1: Ask these questions.

It’s important to find a side hustle that is a good fit for your skills and lifestyle. Ask yourself this…

  • How much time can I dedicate to this? Establish this upfront and commit to it.
  • How much income do I need to make this worthwhile? This isn’t a goal; this is a reality check. Be realistic about it, write it down, and refer to it often. You’ll want to know if your time is being well-spent.
  • What skills do I have that can make this work? Don’t know? Ask a friend what they think you’re good at. Shoot to create a list of three.

Step 2: Create a structure.

Some people hate structure. Maybe they dream of being an entrepreneur so they can escape the structure of their jobs! But I’m telling you: Structure is freedom. It’s the ground that you build upon. Here’s how to create it:

  • Set a goal. I like to make SMART goals — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Each element is critical. You need goals you can work toward, and that you can track your progress on. Once you know this, you’ll start to have a sense of what’s required to get there.
  • Create a schedule. If you’re committing 10 weekly hours, put them in your calendar and stick to it.
  • Find your tools. There are many platforms and services that can help you launch. Take a look at places like Upwork, eBay, Etsy. Start offering your product or service, and learn your marketplace at low risk.

Step 3: Foster great relationships.

  • When starting anything new, it’s helpful to surround yourself with people who have walked in your shoes—and even better if they are a few miles ahead of you! Search for two kinds of people:
  • Mentors. A mentor isn’t a job description; you don’t need people who agree to some formalized role. Instead, build a network of mini-mentors — friends or former colleagues who have expertise and insights.
  • Accountability partners. Find someone who’s on a similar path as you, and buddy up. You can help each other stay on track. When you’re your own boss, it’s helpful to keep up with other bosses.

Now comes the most important part: Instead of questioning yourself or waiting for the perfect moment, it’s time to go. Everything that comes next will help you grow.

How Blockchain Will Dominate the Digital Advertising Industry in 2021

How Blockchain Will Dominate the Digital Advertising Industry in 2021?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Every day we read data breach scandals by ad tech vendors. We are getting tracked every day with hidden cookies, and permissions we give unconsciously. According to Juniper research, advertising losses were to reach $42 billion in 2019 and were predicted to be driven to reach $100 billion by 2023. Blockchain came into action to provide transparency while serving ads and paying for the real human interactions on the ads, not automated traffic.

Blockchain is emerging into the technology market these days and transforming the way we have been doing the online transactions lately. This technology is not only limited to the finance market, but it is also impacting the advertising and marketing industry too.

So, what exactly is blockchain?

Blockchain is the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) which contains the record of multiple distributed transactions between different people. It doesn’t require any central control, because the data is not located in any local server, it’s stored in a secured server distributed globally.

The application of blockchain in digital advertising is very significant. From the last few decades advertising firms using user’s personal data to understand their buying habits and designing campaigns by invading their personal space.

Why is blockchain technology entering into digital advertising?

The industry space opened up for blockchain recently when data inflation and data discrepancy news surfaced online – advertisers and publishers started looking for a better alternative for transparency.

Advertising platforms like Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and others, were enjoying the monopoly in the digital advertising place since the last decade. These advertising giants were manipulating the data and information to make a huge profit margin.

Advertisers sued the social networking platform for overstating video-viewing metrics over an 18-month period from 2015-16, which led the advertisers to pay extra for video ads based on the inflated data.

A lot of other news reported about the fake bot traffic advertisers were paying for. It is all because of a lack of control. The publishers and advertisers don’t control the data, hence restricted to see only information ad tech vendors are offering. Data is very vulnerable today, digital advertising tools are using this as their new profit-making plan.

How would publishers know that they’re receiving a fair share of profit?

Ad vendors employing illegal techniques to access users’ personal data for their benefits, in exchange for rewards, and similar scenarios is a major threat and blockchain basically came into the picture of digital advertising to give the user control over their data.

Blockchain applications in digital advertising

1. Ad Buying and selling without the mediator

No intermediaries will be benefitted by employing blockchain-powered online advertising platforms. Blockchain is solving the transparencies and trust issues the ad tech industry has.

2. Fraud prevention and transparency in the ad supply chain

It’s very difficult to find the fraudulent clicks and impressions you are paying for. Blockchain technology integrated with the tools helps find and flag sites with click discrepancy and bot infiltration which would flow the ad budget to the right sites with genuine clicks.

3. Targeting the right audience

Driving an ad campaign according to their customer journey is important. With the help of blockchain, ad tech platforms can automate campaigns based on the specified set of rules. If the audience falls into those certain criteria, then only an ad will be visible to them. By doing this advertisers can utilize the budget on better sites to show ads.

Audience engagement will be credible now with very much accurate data that will help design better campaigns. The leads and subscriptions would be genuine and identifiable.

4. Data management

Data and insights play a key role in drafting a great campaign strategy. Blockchain makes it simple to retrieve the right KPIs utilize the data for better decision making.

5. Customize ad delivery

No one likes to see the same ads multiple times and increase ad fatigue. But, advertisers were not able to control the delivery of the ads in most of the top advertising platforms. With blockchain, advertisers will be given control to limit the ad frequency according to their campaign objectives.

6. Social media ads

A lot of fake news used to surface online through social media channels, now it can be controlled as blockchain technology is the distributed system is highly transparent and trackable. It can limit the social media ad frauds.

7. Data safety

Data safety and privacy is a major challenge in the digital advertising industry. The users browsing behavior is no longer the reason you serve your ads to them. Now, audience permission is required to use their personal data. A lot of countries are taking initiatives to stop the illegal practices. Security compliance like GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, and a lot more came into the picture for data privacy and safety.

8. Ad-verification

Blockchain reduced the role of third-party platforms to verify ads if they comply with the guidelines and save a lot of time for the advertisers.

9. Ad automation

Ad auctioning process and more easy and transparent with the help of blockchain-based advertising platforms. The ads will now be more effective and relevant.

10. Content management

The delivery of the content is more data-driven and accurate with blockchain. Content monetization, content personalization, content discovery, and content creation would be easier in these blockchain technology ad platforms.

Conclusion: Blockchain is the future in the digital ads industry

It will be too early to say if this could stop the whole of digital advertising scandals, ad frauds, and bot traffic. But, definitely, blockchain is impacting the digital advertising ecosystem positively and gradually. Ad tech giants like Google are adapting the blockchain-powered tools to enhance their functionality.

Blockchain topped the list of the digital marketing trends 2020. It’s time to show zero tolerance for the ad frauds, data alteration, and data breaches. The companies considering an upgrade to their advertising platform with blockchain will lead the way going forward, and it’s time you added your business to this roster.

How to use Quizzes for your Marketing Strategy?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Although quizzes may look silly, they’re actually an amazing marketing tool. A quiz is much more engaging compared to most content types, and it can generate leads faster.

Just think about it: would you rather read a long guide to choosing wines or play a one-minute quiz to define your favorite wines? The quiz option is more appealing because it takes less time and has that element of interactivity.

1. Increase Website Engagement

People land on a web page, browse it for eight seconds and leave. That’s called the bounce rate, and it’s one of the biggest problems in eCommerce. A high bounce rate of 50% and higher – meaning that 50% of visitors leave almost immediately – is a sign for Google that the website isn’t delivering, content-wise.

Quizzes can help to increase engagement and make people stay longer. A fascinating quiz can capture the attention of a visitor anywhere between 30 seconds and a few minutes, making them stay. Besides, a quiz can encourage you to browse more pages by displaying them in results.

2. Build an Email List

Quizzes can help with lead generation. It’s very simple: ask for an email just before displaying quiz results—for example, to keep the user updated on a similar topic or send the results to them directly.

This strategy can be powerful for relevant omnichannel marketing. Take this quiz from Bright Cellars below as an example. It offers the taker to provide contact information to view wine matches based on their answers.

This way, the business can collect hundreds of emails on autopilot, as quizzes run automatically.

To get as many emails as possible, the quiz must be engaging and interesting for the visitors. Marketers recommend using the insights and findings from customer research to define topics and questions your target customers might find worthy of their attention and time.

3. Increase Sales

Quizzes aren’t just for having silly fun or studying something along with flashcards. When done well, quizzes can help ecommerce stores sell.

Another cool thing about this quiz results page is the “Don’t like” button. It reduces hesitation and makes the product even more personalized by giving extra product options.

If a customer clicks this button, the website automatically switches to another product and characteristics without leaving the page. That’s an excellent move to keep the customer focused on making the sale and going the extra mile to help them find the best product.

4. Write Better Blog Content

Coming up with engaging blog topics to promote a business can be quite challenging. Keyword research can help, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture. After all, the best input about content creation always comes from customers.

Quizzes can be a tool to get that input. Each question is an opportunity to learn something about your target customers’ preferences and interests, which can give ideas for content.

If you decide to give quizzes a try, study the results for potential content topics. You’ll be able to produce more relevant and useful content for your customers and build a reputation as an expert in your niche.

5. Re-Engage Passive Customers

Quizzes are interactive and engaging, so they can help activate the customers who haven’t been interacting with your content for a while.

Share quizzes via as many marketing channels as possible to re-engage more customers. The must-do channels are email newsletters and social media.

Final Thoughts

Quizzes aren’t just for fun or exploration – they’re a legit way to collect leads, increase website engagement, build email lists, and sell more. When done right, a quiz can make a lot of difference for a digital marketing strategy regardless of the niche.

What Is Search Intent

What Is Search Intent?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Search intent, also known as audience or user intent, is defined as the purpose of a user’s search.

With Google Hummingbird, Google RankBrain, and BERT algorithm adjustments, the search engine can interpret search intent and display results that meet that search intent, often through rich snippet results like the Answer Box and Knowledge Panel.

Keyword intent can also describe keywords used by potential customers and leads at various stages of the conversion funnel. Since people look for, process, and use search results differently based on their ultimate goal, understanding and optimizing for search intent is hugely important for SEO.

Now that you know why search intent matters for SEO, it’s time to start optimizing for it.

The first step is to understand the different types of search intent. There are four types of search intents you must take into consideration.

1. Informational

Informational searches are the most common type of searches that users conduct. The basis of these search queries is to learn about a certain subject or topic. These search queries have the largest search volume because people constantly look for information.

These searches occur in the discovery phase of searching. People are looking for content-rich pages that provide them with answers to their questions. These pages are expected to be easy to skim so users can get the important information quickly.

2. Navigational

When users conduct navigational searches, they are looking for a desired page or website. These users know which company or brand they seek, but need help getting to a specific product or service page.

Users typically search with the brand name in their query, along with the product. For instance, someone may search “Keurig coffee makers at Target.” They know they want a Keurig coffee maker, and they know they want it from Target, they just want to navigate to a page with Keurig coffee makers to find the right one.

When you look at the search results for navigational searches, the search engine results pages (SERPs) focus on home pages and product pages for specific websites.

3. Transactional

Transactional searches have the most commercial intent. People use phrases like “price” or “sale” because they’re ready to buy. People will specifically search for products and attach these keywords to find the product that fits their query best.

The SERPs are typically commercial pages, which include product and subscription pages. You’ll rarely ever see informational pages, as these users are beyond the research stage and ready to convert.

4. Commercial

Commercial searches are a mix of informational and transactional searches. These are informational searches that have transactional intent. People want to make a purchase, but they are looking for information to help guide them to the right product.

SEO Benefits of Intent Targeting

facebook marketingSearch intent is a huge part of how semantic SEO delivers more relevant search results to users—so better intent optimization results in more relevant and qualified traffic to your website.

This means improved conversion rates for your transactional landing pages, but will also result in boosts to informational pages as well:

  • Reduced bounce rates: people are actually getting what they want, so they stay on your pages.
  • More page views: Meeting a user’s intent makes them more likely to engage with the rest of your website.
  • More answer boxes: Having your content selected for Google’s featured snippets can be a great benefit. It allows your pages to rank in position 0 above the first search result.
  • Wider audience reach: One of the great things about intent optimization is that Google is smart enough to interpret multiple queries as having the same topic and intent. That means it will show your intent-optimized page for a lot more queries.

3 YouTube Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2021

3 YouTube Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2021

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

The year 2020 was when the world truly ‘discovered’ YouTube. People had ‘time on their hands,’ which led to a sharp upswing of new YouTube creators. From a spike in the views for ‘How to’ videos to foraying into YouTubing, the pandemic brought viewers and content creators in droves.

Inadequate channel setup

video creationOne of the most common gaffes committed by YouTubers is not setting up the channel properly. Populating the ‘About’ tab so that first-time viewers know what you are about, categorizing and grouping videos on the ‘Home’ tab to make it easier for viewers to find what they’re looking for quickly are some of the ways to organize a channel appropriately.

Finding my popular uploads in one place is important for my viewers not only for engagement but also for new viewers to find similar content in one go. Always simplify and organize content, to avoid any bumps along your content journey.

Not considering packaging

Knowing your target audience is half the battle won, but creating and packaging your content in a way that appeals to them is a whole new game. Understanding your niche and creating content accordingly is a given, but many YouTubers don’t realize that packaging is crucial to attract and sustain viewers. Every time you create a video, you need to put yourself in the shoes of a viewer looking for the type of content you offer and tailor your video accordingly.

The title of your video, the thumbnail used, even the description in the video itself—everything adds up to how well your target audience reacts to your content.

Failing to create engaging content

This is a no-brainer, but a fact that several newbie YouTubers forget in the course of their YouTube journeys. Attention to detail is a trait that will set you apart from other YouTubers creating similar content. Basic factors such as audio quality, video duration, and editing are significant. But things such as whether or not your content is engaging, is it answering important questions, is it easy to follow, do you include closed captions are the questions that need answering every time you create a video.

It is very easy to lose sight of your aim as a YouTuber, and this is my only advice to new YouTubers: don’t forget why you’re doing this! There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new YouTube channels created every day, and it’s easy to get drowned out. Going the extra mile for your own channel can serve you well in the long-term.

The 3-Step Formula for Successful Facebook Video Ads

The 3-Step Formula for Successful Facebook Video Ads

By | Networking Bizz News

1. Stop the scroll

This goal is clear. Facebook autoplaying the audio as well as the video when a user opens their news feed provides a huge opportunity, but it’s only an opportunity. It’s not a guarantee of anything because while you can easily grab a viewer’s attention, they can just as easily snatch it back. Those first three to 10 seconds are vital, then, especially when the video appears as an ad in a news feed. There are some pretty simple things that you can do to halt the scroll.

One strategy that we use is blatant hand motions. It’s a direct appeal, and it can be a bit annoying, but it does still work. Give the viewer a wave. Pull them toward you in the same way that a good store demonstrator will pull passers-by into their display. Attract attention before the crowd scrolls past. It’s not subtle but sometimes, simple and bold are enough to do the job.

Another strategy that we’ve found to be very effective is text overlay. Facebook now allows advertisers to automatically add subtitles to their video ads. If people have turned the sound off on their phone, they’ll still be able to see your message. As soon as they see the text, they’ll start to read it. It pulls them in and draws their attention. You’ll be able to prove that you’ve got something they should see before their thumb starts to move.

The third thing to do is use a “pattern-interrupt.” That just means we try to break up the visuals. It’s the same principle that makes warning signs red and pedestrian crossings black and white. If you can break up the picture so that it looks unusual, it will always attract attention.

You don’t have to do anything outrageous here. Movement can be enough to keep eyeballs on that part of the screen. A very close close-up can be unusual enough to break the routine and make the video stand out against the background of other content. Video ads that look like selfies can create pattern interrupt, too, and they look authentic and real.

2. Use the EDIE formula

Once we’ve settled on a way to grab attention in the opening seconds, we apply our EDIE formula. EDIE stands for Educate, Demonstrate, Inform, or Entertain.

Educate

The Educate approach is about giving people tips. You don’t have to be on camera to educate — you can do a Power Point or Keynote presentation while recording your computer screen, and you have a great video. If you want them to register for a webinar, you can tell them they’ll find more once they complete your call to action. If you give them value, they’ll share it. If you give them at least one “Aha!” moment, one nugget of advice that makes them realize the value of what you’re offering, they’ll obey that call to action.

Demonstrate

Demonstrate works great for technology brands. We all love to see gadgets, and we love to see them work. Video ads for drones and software and other tech items are always eye-catching. You only need to show the product in action to make the viewer want to see more and want to get their own hands on the product.

Inform

Inform goes further than Educate. Instead of delivering a skill to the viewer, it gives them information they didn’t know before. It’s particularly useful when the product requires little education to use but has a variety of features that people should know about.

3. Call to action

Business financingWe find that many clients forget about the call to action. Once you’ve built up interest, you should tell viewers what to do next. Whether your call to action is loud or subtle, urgent or calm, it should suit your brand, your product, and the action you want viewers to take. But, it should be there — and it might even need to be there several times.

Sometimes brands will make a video ad that lasts five or six minutes, but they won’t give a call to action until the very end. It’s as though they’re embarrassed to guide viewers in the direction they want them to go. They’re afraid that if they include a call to action earlier, they’ll put people off watching.

But, only a portion of the audience will watch a video all the way through. So only a portion of the audience will see a call to action that comes at the end of a long video.

In a nine-minute video I might make about four calls to action. They won’t necessarily be hard sales — they’ll be natural and authentic. But, the clearer you can lay out the path, the more likely people are to follow it.

7 Common B2B Ecommerce Challenges

7 Common B2B Ecommerce Challenges

By | E Commerce Business News

In 2019, only 13% of all B2B sales were generated digitally. By 2023, when U.S. B2B online sales are projected to reach $1.8 trillion.

And with COVID-19 still impacting the ways we live, work, and purchase, the call to e-commerce is growing stronger. Across every industry, business people and consumers are learning tough lessons about agility and resilience.

It’s increasingly clear that both require at least some degree of digital presence.

The traditional sales-meeting, hand-shaking, demoing, negotiating, contracting, and procurement process isn’t easy to translate to a consumer-like digital experience online. Or, at least, it wasn’t always. And besides — the modern B2B buyer has different expectations.

B2B Ecommerce Challenges

Your B2B buyers want the same experience as B2C shoppers: efficiency and ease of use. But they have different needs — and therein lies the major challenge of B2B eCommerce sales.

1. B2B relationships are personal.

You probably don’t have an account manager to be the liaison between you and your favorite department store. But B2B relationships often are personalized in this way and have developed over time.

These personalized needs include customer-specific pricing, whether based on a tiering system or specifically negotiated deals, and bulk pricing. You may also have customers who don’t need access to your entire catalog.

B2B buyers expect pricing, catalogs, and product selection to be organized according to their particular requirements. How will those relationships translate online? How do you keep relationships unique and personalized at scale?

2. The B2B buying process involves a lot of decision-makers, and the buying cycle is long and complex.

The B2B purchasing workflow can consist of a wide range of people with their own specific roles and responsibilities. There will be people researching the solutions, stakeholders whose buy-in is needed to move forward, financial representatives to approve the spend, and so many more. And depending on the value of the purchase, this could take up to a year or more — a far cry from the one-click purchase button on Amazon.

All that complexity means there’s a lot to keep up with. This is where solid back-office management comes in. You have to be able to efficiently provide each stakeholder your business interacts with the information they need to do their jobs.

You need powerful tools on your side, like customer relationships management (CRM) software, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to integrate all your data, and self-service options so buyers can find as much information on their own as possible.

3. Buyers have complex procurement processes.

B2B buyers expect flexibility on how they order and how they pay — and they need it, because some companies’ purchase processes are as complex and analog as the laggards they buy from.

Procurement refers to the activities around acquiring the products and services that support business operations. It’s often tightly monitored and controlled, with clearly defined policies and processes. This can include a lot of documents, like contracts, requisition orders, purchase orders, invoices, and more.

According to an August 2019 survey of B2B buyers, almost three-quarters of respondents said they’d switch to a new ecommerce site for better purchasing options. The same share of respondents stated that they would purchase more products if they could pay by invoice.

4. Buyers need many ways to pay.

Offering flexible payment terms to B2B customers can help you win new customers and keep existing customers happy.

Avoiding the financial risk of offering credit to new customers.

5. Data for multiple channels may be siloed.

Selling online requires locking together a number of moving pieces, and that number can be even greater when you’re talking about B2B. Particularly if you sell via multiple channels, you may have many different sources of data. Keeping that data siloed is not the best option for your business.

ERP software integrates order management, accounting, and a 360-degree view of your clients into a single, real-time system, providing all the flexibility you need to customize the workflows and functionality of your back-office environment. A strong ERP integration provides you with a clear, holistic view of your business and your inventory levels so you can strengthen overall operations and meet buyer expectations.

6. Shipping B2B has its own set of requirements and constraints.

Determining the best shipping strategy for your B2B business comes with its own set of unique challenges, from freight shipments to client-specific requirements and more.

As you develop your B2B shipping strategy, aim for complete price transparency, multiple shipping options, and tailored shipping options based on product, order, or customer. Use different rules per product group, especially if you’re introducing a brand new product line, and make sure you are fulfilling orders via appropriate services.

7. B2B buyers need to find more complex products just as easily.

Modern buyers are moving away from in-person sales meetings and ordering via a paper catalog. Online B2B buyers, like B2C shoppers, want relevant search results, easy website navigation, and suggested product content.

But they also need accommodations that meet the complexity of B2B buying, such as a unique account with a custom catalog, specialized pricing, and sensitivity to product availability. The future of B2B is in ecommerce, and the need for personalized, intelligent, search-driven experience is essential. But today, with evolving technologies and buyer demands, you’ll be able to find more ways to easily enable successful B2B sales on an eCommerce website.

Why is digital marketing so important for small businesses

Why Is Digital Marketing so Important for Small Businesses?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

That first goal when opening a small business is basically the same for everyone – creating a brand that will lead that first wave of consumers straight to your homepage and convert them. For those entrepreneurs that opened up their small businesses 15+ years ago, the solutions were simple enough – focus all efforts on traditional marketing channels. Printing ads, running commercials, handing out business cards and promotional pamphlets. We still see companies doing that. However, starting that small business on the right track is no longer as simple as it once used to be. And yet, there is a much more efficient way to do it – through the implementation of professional digital marketing solutions.

Digital marketing has become the foundation on which modern small business owners build their presence and establish their footing in their communities and niches. But why is this so – what makes having a well-developed digital marketing strategy so important today? We will answer 5 fundamental questions in hopes of preventing you from disregarding the impact digital advertising can have on the development of your company:

Growing your small business is a simple matter of finding the best approach to do so.

What is Digital Marketing – how does one define it today?

Easily editable flat vector illustration on layers.

Digital Marketing presents the act of advertising and selling products/services through the use of online marketing strategies and channels.

As a concept, it encompasses all promotional efforts that are focused on the use of search engines, social media platforms, email marketing, website optimization, and mobile advertising – all with the goal of attracting target audiences and establishing your brand online. However, given the age we live in today, digital marketing has become the very definition and equivalent of marketing. It has become the primary medium when it comes to promoting your business and the offer it has to consumers everywhere.

Why is online marketing so relevant today?

Basically, it comes down to the same approach that you would have with traditional marketing objectives. You will want to identify your target audience and point your online advertising efforts toward establishing a mutually beneficial relationship with them. Whether they are consumers, leads, or prospects – the focus remains unchanged whereas the channels for reaching those audiences have been digitalized.

People on laptops and phones.

More and more consumers today come through online marketing channels.

For example, consider the most recent purchase you made, whether it was a new mobile phone, a brand new home, or perhaps a professional moving service.

The fact is that roughly 87% of consumers start their shopping decisions online. And so – having you small company pop up on those online search results, social media channels, email marketing campaigns, etc. has become a necessity of doing business.

What is the best way for a small business owner to choose the right digital marketing strategy?

Yes – there are different approaches that a small business can take when it comes to promoting its offers online. However, the key isn’t in choosing a single tactic and following it blindly. Instead, you need to make the perfect combination of different action plans to make a more significant impact:

  • Lay the foundation for your digital marketing efforts early on by creating a strong and easily recognizable brand for your small business.
  • Design and develop your company website in accordance with modern expectations and web standards. Focus on ensuring user experience for both desktop and mobile users, with fast loading pages and clear Calls to Action (CTAs).
  • Implement the creation of engaging content that will appeal to your target audience. Consider what their problems are and provide them with clear and useful guidelines on how best to overcome those obstacles.
  • Create a clear and detailed social media marketing strategy that will offer practical information and advice. These would be short posts that potential clients would be motivated to share with friends and followers.
  • Use the principles of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to make your online content uphold search engine standards. By doing this, you can secure those top search results for your web pages and blog posts.
  • Promote your offers further through the introduction of paid advertising (PPC) solutions. Ensure that your ads are always visible to potential customers.
  • Incorporate a well-placed and timely email marketing campaign to follow-up with your audience. That way, you can maintain a mutually beneficial long-term relationship with online users.

It comes down to piecing together a puzzle that presents all that you want your business to promote online. And once you successfully do that, you will secure an efficient and self-sustainable online marketing system. Sure, building that entire system from an idea might seem intimidating enough, but it doesn’t need to be. All you really need is a professional insight into the inner workings and relevance of digital marketing today.

5 Most Effective Instagram Metrics To Track In 2021

5 Most Effective Instagram Metrics To Track In 2021

By | Social Media News

One of the best ways by which you can grow your Instagram account and create a following that converts is to understand and take advantage of Instagram analytics.

Of all social media platforms, Instagram continues to register massive growth.

It is, therefore, a powerful platform for your brand, marketing campaigns, and events; and just about anything that can elevate your business to higher levels.

And this is where the important factor of Instagram metrics comes in. Metrics are useful as they help you to analyze, evaluate and take stock of the performance of your account, and how it influences your overall business strategy.

Whether you are tracking your own profile or that of an influencer, in this article, I’m going to describe the most effective analytics metrics you can track in 2021.

1. Engagement – Track your engagement rate on Instagram to understand your peak in interactions

Tracking engagement involves comments, likes, and shares done on your Instagram account. To drive your business to desired levels, your followers need to see your post and engage with the same post.

Tracking comments, likes, and use of the share button allows you know how much your audience are interested in your brand. The number of likes and comments can then help you to calculate the engagement rate.

Knowing your engagement rate allows you to keep track of your best performing post. It also makes you to know exactly where the interest of your audience is. With this insight, you can grow and improve your business presence on social media.

Again, you can quickly determine what works and what does not work for your brand. Finally, this kind of feedback helps you to make the needed upgrades where necessary.

2. Reach – Understand how far your content is really going

Measuring reach allows you to see and measure how many people have viewed your posts. This metric is used to analyze the extent of awareness of your brand, but also it creates the required hype and buzz around a post, story, or advert.

If you want to calculate your reach rate, you take the total number of viewers per post and divide it by the total number of your followers. Basically, reach is often shown in numbers, and for every account that sees your post is counted as one view.

3. Stories retention rates – See how engaged is your audience with Stories

Business financingStories retention rate is perhaps the toughest, yet most productive part of your metrics. It involves creating ideas that resonate with and interest your audience. It means you create ways to keep your followers glued on your content from start to finish.

To determine retention rate means that you carefully track how each individual Story is performing. So if you are posting multiple stories on your Instagram page daily, each of these Stories is evaluated individually.

Understanding retention rates helps you to evaluate trends. For example, you can quickly see if people are following your story to the end or not, and to find out the reasons why it is happening that way.

4. Traffic & sales – Make sure your posts are converting

As you create content on Instagram, you also must ensure that it translates into traffic and sales on your website. You can easily use shoppable stickers in your content.

Metrics for Instagram shoppable posts and Instagram Stories allows you to evaluate your content and tailor it to suit your audience, which in turn converts.

5. Audience demographics – Identify if your content is drawing in the right audience

Target audiencesInformation on age, interests, and location of your audience is a must-have. It helps you to create a buyer persona. It also gives you direction on whom and where to focus your content strategy.

The demographics metrics help you to establish a certain trend and a target group which is well-defined. Again it allows you to modify and tailor your content to suit the needs of your target group.

A monthly evaluation of demographics data helps you to know if your followers is still intact. You can also know if there’s a marked growth or the levels are fluctuating.

Final thought

Instagram remains one of the social media sites from which you can grow your business to higher proportions. Once you know how to analyze the metrics, your Instagram marketing campaigns can both be fun and profitable.

The best thing with Instagram metrics is that they clearly show you how your account, and generally your business is doing. With these insights, you can easily make the necessary upgrades, maintain the best practices, as well as improve on the weaker areas of your marketing strategy.

How To Create An Effective LinkedIn Marketing Strategy in 2021

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

As one of the most important B2B social media platforms, LinkedIn can help you attract more eyes on your business.

At the moment, it is one of the most popular social networks for professionals and one of the top social networks overall, and as a plus – LinkedIn made its Stories feature available to all users.

Wondering how can you build a complete LinkedIn marketing strategy for your business?

I’ve made a list of tactics and ideas on how to create an effective LinkedIn marketing strategy for your business in 2021.

1. Create a company profile

If you want to promote your business on social media, having a LinkedIn company page, is a must. You’ll be able to build brand recognition by providing a way to promote your products and services to customers and potential ones.

2. Post relevant and engaging content

content marketingYour principal objective is to increase the engagement of your page, so make sure your posts contain helpful tips, tricks, and information related to your industry.

Prove that you’re an expert in your field and write about a subject in which you can add value or give actionable insights. You can even use a graph maker to create stunning visuals that catch the eye.

Avoid writing promotional presentations and focus more on content that provides in-depth information for your followers or maybe lessons learned during years.

Through your posts, try to bring an added value or give actionable insights

3. Use LinkedIn Stories

This feature is great for business – and here are three great ways every business should use LinkedIn Stories:

  • Share behind the scene moments
  • Important projects you are working on
  • Host a corporate Q&A
  • Use LinkedIn Stories into your marketing strategy

4. Make your company’s name known

linkedin postYou’re not alone in your niche, and you have to make your company’s name known.

An excellent way to do it is by inviting people to follow your page. This strategy will allow you to have a bigger pool of connections who might want to follow your business.

If you want to increase your LinkedIn page connections, this is something you should try:

  • Invite your connections to follow your page.
  • Promote your LinkedIn company page on other social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
  • Mention your LinkedIn page in your emails.
  • If you want to increase your LinkedIn profile connections, make sure you personalize your request.
  • Personalize your connection requests – As a company page, you can’t send LinkedIn connections, but your employees can. Make sure they mention your brand in that note.
  • You have 300 words to add a note

5. Add LinkedIn groups to your page

Being part of a LinkedIn group has the advantage of making your content visible, and it’s an excellent opportunity to connect and interact with like-minded peers in your niche.

With a LinkedIn page you can’t be part of a group, but you have the option to showcase a LinkedIn group on your page.

Use your LinkedIn profile, and be part of an existing group, or start your group. Being the moderator and admin of a group, you gain control and awareness in the industry.

6. Define your goals

Building brand awareness might take time, but the key to success is consistent and quality content, plus staying up-to-date in your industry.

Peter Drucker – an American author and consultant in the field of organizational development and management, started the idea for SMART goals.

  • SMART stands for “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Achievable,” “Relevant,” and “Time-Bound.”
  • Keep these words in mind and when defining your LinkedIn goals.
  • Another thing that should also be at the forefront of your actions is an effective work plan.
  • Your LinkedIn goals must be in line with the goals you set in your work plan.

7. Make your employees part of your business strategy

You should know that your brand’s best ambassadors are your employees. You can boost your presence by asking them to share articles from the company’s blog, new features, events, – mentioning the company name in the post.

8.Mention people in your LinkedIn posts

Tagging people you’ve quoted or you’ve referenced in the content you’re sharing is an essential step in your LinkedIn marketing strategy.

The people you’ve tagged will be notified, along with their connections, and people who follow them, so your content will be seen by more people.

This LinkedIn marketing strategy will help your posts become more visible and ultimately raise the overall engagement of your page.

Mentioning people in your posts will increase your posts comments

9. Upload native videos

LinkedIn native videos are five times more likely than other content to start a conversation among LinkedIn members, according to LinkedIn stats.

Videos are among those pieces of content which stand out of the crowd. They are vital in today’s social media strategy.

Be as creative as possible: give some advice in your niche, share an opinion about the latest trends or share a few tips & tricks like in the post below.

10. Use hashtags

Hashtags help users find content on a particular topic. When you add hashtags to your posts, those posts will get a higher chance of being discovered by LinkedIn members who follow or search for the hashtag you’ve used.

If you are using hashtags when posting something on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, you should use them with your LinkedIn posts as well.

11. Measure your LinkedIn performance

Keeping an eye on your LinkedIn analytics dashboard can help you make informed decisions that lead to better results.

Try to track some LinkedIn KPIs – followers demographic, number of followers, impressions and reach, engagement rate, profile views by job title, etc. It will help you increase your reach in your industry

12. Infographic

Infographics are a great way to promote your content uniquely.

Final thought

The benefits of using LinkedIn in your marketing strategy are undeniable: you can enhance your brands’ name, build a credible, reliable image in the business world, and you also keep your clients and partners informed.

After some time, you might even be recognized as a leader in your field.

How to effectively use Google Tag Manager for ecommerce

How to Effectively Use Google Tag Manager for Ecommerce

By | E Commerce Business News

Google Tag Manager (GTM) is the perfect way to add and update your tracking tags without ever having to edit code. While most of us use it every day for adding Google Analytics (GA), AdWords or third-party codes, many of us forget that we can use GTM for e-commerce tracking, which means that we’re missing important reporting data.

What can be tracked?

GA has two different implementation methods for tracking e-commerce:

Standard e-commerce: This report allows you to review purchase activity on your app or site. It will pull product and transaction information, average order value, time to purchase, conversion rate and more.

Enhanced e-commerce: This report builds on the standard e-commerce report and adds additional features. You can see information like when customers added items to their shopping carts, when they started the checkout process and when they finally completed the purchase. The importance of this information is that you can really dive into when people are abandoning their cart or identify other issues as to why customers are not completing their purchase. This is especially helpful when you want to optimize the conversion funnel or identify complications that could be inhibiting cart completion.

Both of these codes can be added to your site with GTM, but you do need to do some preliminary work before you can launch them.

Implementing e-commerce tracking

Before you can begin tracking e-commerce in GTM, you must have the Universal Analytics in place on your website. If you have the older analytics code, you will have to upgrade to the Universal tracking code.

Once you do that, ensure that the older version of the code is not hard-coded on your website. In fact, you should remove any hard-coded tracking codes on your site if you’re using GTM. If you launch both GTM and hard-coded GA codes, then your code will fire twice and mess up your results.

If you’re unsure whether your GTM tags are using the latest Universal tracking code, you can go to the overview screen or click on one of the tags to see. The “tag type” will say Universal Analytics.

After your GA code is updated, you must now enable eCommerce tracking within GA, which can be done within the Admin panel. Simply navigate to the view that you want to track e-commerce in, and go to View. Then, click on E-commerce Settings, and set Enable E-commerce to “on”. Finish by clicking Next Step, and Submit.

Most shopping carts are e-commerce-enabled and have built-in tracking. So, once you have e-commerce enabled in GA, you should immediately start seeing shopping cart data. One thing to remember, however, is that not all shopping carts are compatible with GA. So, this might be a consideration if you’re in the process of looking for a new or a replacement for your current shopping cart. Review their compatibilities. Some may only need an additional extension to work with GA, but these extensions usually cost money.

Why e-commerce tracking is important for you

As marketers, the more information that we have, the better we can optimize our campaigns. If you only have standard tracking set up, then you can’t see where or why people are potentially abandoning your cart or the sales funnel. For example, if you see that over 50% of your potential customers are dropping out of the funnel during a particular section of the cart, you can then go into this section and see if there is anything that could be causing the issues. Are we asking the customer to do too many steps? Is the cart timing out? Or, is the page too confusing, i.e. the submit button is too far down the page or being masked by an image?

Without the sales funnel information, then you can’t follow the customer journey to find the issue that is causing them to not complete a sale. Once your tags are implemented, let them run for a few weeks. While you might be able to get data immediately, more than likely, you’ll get better insights if you let the tags collect data over six weeks or so. Then, use this information to determine, for example, which products are performing better than others, and review everything from pricing to copy to the checkout process.

Use the data to create a better experience for the customer and improve your sales. Create separate reports strictly for e-commerce activity to provide more transparency for stakeholders.

Instagram Outreach Tip: How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

Instagram Outreach Tip: How Brands Can Use Instagram Direct

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It seems like every day I read about a new brand creating an influencer network. Whether they’re taking an opt-in approach or inviting advocates to participate based on their own identification and vetting process this trend is everywhere.

This rising marketing trend follows a one-to-one-to-many communication model and like we always say…it’s not necessarily about counting the people you reach, but rather reaching the people that count!

A year after its launch, Instagram Direct can still be a great way for brands to build and engage with their social community in a more personalized and intentional way.

3 Use Cases

Here are the most common use cases I’ve seen from marketers who are active in Instagram marketing strategies.

  • 1. Start by sifting through your account’s existing followers. This will allow you to research Instagram users who already love your brand, the low hanging fruit if you will. Who engages with your pictures most? Who has the most followers and account engagement of their own? Is anyone on your list of followers doing something in their photos that relate to your brand’s mission or product specifically? You could then select 15 best-fit Instagrammers to send a direct message with something like a coupon or promotional code and start a dialogue in the comment section. For example, you could invite the group to use their promo codes at the online store, or send an Instagram detailing an upcoming sale at a retail location. The same goes for contests. You could offer the first 15 people that comment on a photo a prize via direct message.
  • 2. Because comments are visible by everyone included in the direct message, the feature provides a convenient platform to get to know your network on a personal level and create conversations about the brand. Ask your list to pick between two products featured in a photo, or ask if they have any feedback on the current products or service. Asking for feedback in an exclusive way will make your network feel like a valued part of the brand, a role that they will want to tell their own networks all about!
  • 3. Use Instagram’s Explore feature to search for product or campaign-specific hashtags. This way, you will be able to see who has recently posted photos of their cool new stuff. From there you can create a list of folks to send a direct message to, thanking them for their recent purchases or participation.

Who Has Tried It?

Instagram Direct Messaging can also be used to collect content submissions from an audience. One creative example of this was GoEnnounce’s “College Acceptance Giveaway” campaign last year.

Obviously, you want to make sure that the people you’re sending content to actually want your content. This seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t stress enough the attention necessary for making this type of exclusive outreach relevant and genuine.

Make sure you only direct message people who have engaged with your account before, and that your 15 selections are alike in a way that they will engage with one another in the comment thread of the message.

Be careful in planning your content, and align what you send as closely as possible with how those users post themselves or interact with your brand.

Use personal language. If it sounds like spam, your message will go from being flattering to annoying in no time. Try referencing a previous message, photo, or component of the network that will make the direct message sound like it came from a friend.

10 Ways To Integrate Agency Agile Methods In A Digital Agency

10 Ways To Integrate Agency Agile Methods In A Digital Agency

By | Digital Marketing & Google News, Online Entrepreneur News

There are many agile methods and practices available. I realised this back in 2010 after struggling to get the expected benefits from Scrum and doing some deeper research. This led me to Kanban and lean thinking. Some of their practices appeared to offer improvements on the approach we were using.

I started to experiment. First with a small, predictable project and then progressively with larger and more complex work. This started with the way I was breaking individual projects down – I switched from user stories to feature descriptions and then to value-based deliverables. This made work easier for clients to review and accept, making projects easier to manage.

I began challenging our processes and the way all our work was managed too. This led to us scrapping sprint planning sessions in favour of quick reorganisations at the daily stand-up. We soon dropped the concept of sprints and moved to a flow-based Kanban approach. Further improvements came from across the team making suggestions for how we could be better, and then giving them a go.

The results spoke for themselves:

  • staff were happier as it was easier for them to do their best work and mostly self-manage themselves
  • this freed up PM time to comfortably handle more projects in parallel and focus on the outcomes that mattered
  • there were significant improvements in the quality of our work, delivery times, client relationships and outcomes achieved
  • and at the same time, we trebled the revenue per head in our team in a little under three years.

Upon further reflection, it’s become apparent that the lightbulb moment came from daring to experiment. I made changes and observed their effects.

Process improvement efforts prior to this had been looking for a ready-made process we could just adopt – like Scrum. I now understand this doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist because our industry is still in its infancy so we’re still working out how our businesses should work. It’s also true that every business is unique. Operational processes that work in one agency aren’t necessarily transferable to another.

I consult with a variety of knowledge-work businesses including many digital agencies helping them improve their operational processes. Based on this experience, here are my top tips for integrating agile methods into the agency setting:

#1. Accept that there’s no ‘one true way’ and nothing is set in stone

Every organisation is unique. Agency agile success comes from building upon the ideas of others and adapting them to your situation.

#2. Foster a culture of incremental change and continuous improvement

While the rate of change is naturally higher at the start of process improvement work, it’s a mistake to ever consider it ‘done’. Agency agile requires you to constantly adapt and test your working methods (kaizen in the lingo). This is why ‘big bang’ managed change initiatives rarely deliver lasting results.

#3. Define the outcomes that really matter

“Remember that clients mainly value return on their investment. #agile #projectmanagement”.They don’t care what your process is or is called as long as it makes it easy for them to get the results they desire. Equally, remember the reasons and motivations why your agency exists.

#4. Measure quantitatively

There’s no need to go overboard but it’s important to take normalized measurements of your work. Without these measurements, you’re effectively working blind.

When I led the development team at an agency, my measurements included the ‘revenue per head’, ‘revenue per client’, ‘opportunity cost per client’ (i.e. the value of unbillable time spent per client) and ‘timesheet completeness’ (hours recorded out of hours worked). I sampled these metrics monthly, reporting the results to both my team and the company directors. This never failed to provide valuable insights on where to target our improvement efforts next.

Most of these data points rely on accurate timesheet data, and I’m aware this can be a challenge. I’ve found explaining why timesheets are important and what the information is used for (and not used for) to be a huge help in getting them filled in.

#5. Measure qualitatively

Numbers are important but don’t forget softer measures that are equally valuable for agency agile. These include perceived quality of projects, client satisfaction, and staff engagement / happiness / wellbeing.

#6. Question everything

I don’t mean in an annoying way that irritates everyone around you but in a personal mindset of ‘how could this be better?’. If you’re attending (or chairing) a regular meeting that seems to achieve little, put your agency agile hat on, think about how it could be improved, or if it’s even necessary.

#7. Break projects down into ‘units of value’

For example, the news section of a website or email marketing element of a campaign. This makes the work simpler to manage and cost, and for clients to accept. If you do this consistently across projects you then build up a data set of the time and cost typically associated with a deliverable, making future projects easier to price. It’s far more valuable and accurate than costing by skill type (design, front-end development, back-end development, PM etc).

#8. Visualise your work

The fancy term is ‘value stream mapping’. The important bit is building and maintaining a clear picture of the state all work so everyone’s on the same page. Agile tools like Trello and Jira are great here, but the humble Post-It can be just as good if you’re all in the same location.

#9. Limit your work in progress

In other words, ‘stop starting and start finishing’. The outcomes that matter come from finished work. High quality work comes from focussing on the task at hand and getting it done. Having too many items in flight lengthens lead times and reduces quality.

#10. Capture your processes in an operations manual

Round puzzle table

Businesses are complex. It’s simply not possible (or beneficial) for people to remember everything about how the business works. You, therefore, need some way to capture your processes in a clear and accessible manner.

These aren’t lengthy tomes. They’re mostly checklists for how to approach a situation with a few supporting notes that improve over time. Their use ensures the value of your process is built into the agency – not just in the heads of a few individuals. A good operations manual makes situations like staff on-boarding, business continuity planning, disaster recovery, and simply sharing out work in busy periods so much simpler.

On a practical note, a set of Google Docs linked together plus a separate ‘table of contents’ document is a great approach. Far more flexible and effective than a fancy intranet.

Wrapping Up

Astute readers may detect strong influences of lean and Kanban in this agency agile list. That is no coincidence. But to come away from this article thinking lean software development or Kanban is the right methodology for your agency is missing the point. They provide useful tools but are essentially just labels.

Your processes are unique to you. The goal is to have a unified way of working across your agency. This ensures a consistent experience for clients and staff. It provides the solid foundations necessary for continuously improving quality, creativity, happiness and profit. The only brand name you need to worry about is that of your business.

And remember: success comes from you taking action when you encounter poor processes and inefficiencies. There’s no need to wait for a specific change agenda. When something’s not working well, challenge it and try something else. Start today. If you don’t you’ll still be in the same situation tomorrow.

The Future of Ecommerce: 8 Trends to Watch Out for in 2021

By | E Commerce Business News

Due to an expected increase and the advent of 2020’s effect on commerce, the eCommerce industry is proliferating. Every day, more retailers are making the move to online selling, while entrepreneurs are getting their start through ecommerce ventures.

By 2022, e-retail revenues will grow to $6.54 trillion, up from $3.53 trillion in 2019.

However, eCommerce is an ever-changing industry. Every year, several new trends come up that can help your business grow and outdo your competitors – 2021 is no different.

Let’s look at the top five e-commerce trends to watch out for in 2021.

1. Voice Commerce Will Rise

voice assistantsPeople are increasingly relying on voice assistant devices like the Amazon Echo with Alexa and the Google Home with Google Assistant to do everything, from waking them to buying products online. 75% of U.S. households will have smart speakers by 2025. Voice commerce sales are anticipated to reach $40 billion by 2022.

Another reason why voice commerce is on the rise is the growing accuracy and convenience of the technology. Both Google and Amazon are pushing regional languages in their virtual assistant devices to help consumers shop more conveniently.

Therefore, it is essential to optimize your online store for voice search.

According to Matt Janaway, CEO at MarketingLabs, One simple but very effective way to capture more organic traffic from voice searches to your eCommerce store is to optimize your top-level conversion funnel content to incorporate answers to common consumer questions surrounding your products or market. By attracting, engaging and offering value to potential customers through targeted content neatly drops them right into your conversion path for when they are looking to buy later down the line. For example, what starts as a quick voice search from an internet user looking for advice on ‘how to reduce injuries whilst running’, leads to them reading your solution-based blog post, which in turn results in the sale of your running shoe insoles! Voice commerce is now too big to ignore, so if you’re an eCommerce store owner, be sure to take advantage of this new digital trend and get ahead of the curve before others beat you to it.

2. Omnichannel Shopping Will Become the New Normal

Omnichannel retailing refers to providing shoppers a seamless and consistent experience across channels and devices.

In a survey by HBR (Harvard Business Review), 73% of respondents said they use multiple channels during their shopping journey. This data is almost four years old.

With the increase in the adoption of mobile devices and voice assistants, I can only imagine that the number of omnichannel customers will increase even more in 2021.

Use analytics tools like Finteza that provide detailed ecommerce analytics to identify customer behaviors and track everything related to the cash flow. An analytics tool of this type helps you analyze which products are in demand, monitor your profit and loss, and evaluate customer loyalty. Finteza also allows you to build reports for events that matter the most to your business, such as view items, add to cart, checkout progress, and checkout success.

These insights enable you to offer the exact product that your shoppers are looking for and provide a seamless shopping experience.

3. AI and AR Will Enhance the Ecommerce Experience

Online sellers will spend $7.3 billion on AI by 2022. More than 120,000 stores will be using AR technologies to offer customers a rich buying experience by 2022.

Artificial intelligence (AI) acts as your online in-store associate by offering personalized guidance and recommendations to your customers. AI uses shoppers’ past purchase history and browsing behavior to show them products they are more likely to purchase.

Unlike in physical stores, online shoppers can’t try on or physically inspect the product that they intend to buy. Augmented reality (AR) helps eliminate this hurdle by letting customers see how a certain product would look on them even before they buy the product.

By implementing AI and AR in your ecommerce store, you will likely see an increase in conversions and a decrease in the return rate.

4. New Payment Options Will Emerge

Business financingPayment options are one of the main reasons why customers choose a specific brand. If you don’t offer your customers’ preferred payment method, they won’t purchase from your ecommerce store.

As of now, most ecommerce businesses accept digital wallets (like Google Pay, Samsung or Apple Pay, and PayPal) apart from debit and credit cards. Cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, have many benefits for online shop owners, such as low transaction fees and no reverse transactions.

For example, Overstock partnered with Coinbase, a Bitcoin platform, to allow customers to use Bitcoin as a payment method.

In 2021, we might see more ecommerce businesses will start accepting cryptocurrencies for transactions.

5. Brands Will Continue to Adopt Dynamic Pricing

marketing strategiesDynamic pricing allows ecommerce retailers to stay competitive and attract more customers.

Even if you sell the best product in the world, if you don’t price it correctly, you won’t generate enough sales.

Make sure to choose the right price for your products. By “right,” I mean the amount at which you have the best chance of selling your product while making the maximum possible profits.

Use dynamic pricing software to determine the best price for your products. These tools provide real-time insights into your competitors’ prices, market demand, and perceived value of your products to determine the optimal cost.

6. Mobile Commerce Will Dominate Ecommerce

As consumers’ trust in online shopping increases, they feel more comfortable making purchases using their mobile devices.

By the end of 2021, mobile devices are expected to make almost 73% of total ecommerce sales. Besides, 30% of online shoppers are likely to abandon their carts in the middle of shopping if they find out that your website is not mobile-friendly.

As an online seller, you should focus on improving the customer experience for mobile users.

7. Sustainability Practices Will Influence Sales

customerGreen consumerism is rising rapidly. Brands need to act quickly to stay relevant and competitive.

Green consumerism refers to a situation in which customers look for products that have been produced in an eco-friendly way that preserves the environment or involves recycling.

65% of consumers say they want to buy products from purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability. The focus on green consumerism is a clear indicator that ecommerce brands that prioritize environment-friendly practices will dominate the market in the coming years.

Major ecommerce brands have already started planning to implement more sustainable practices in their business. For example, the world’s leading ecommerce company, Amazon, pledged to bring their carbon emissions to zero by 2040.

8. Visual Commerce Will Get Bigger

Visual commerce refers to using imagery not just on product pages, but also on your entire store to entice users to engage and convert.

Major retailers like Bose, for example, are already using visual commerce to influence shoppers into purchasing. They have high-quality images on their homepage along with shortcuts to purchase the product directly.

Final Thoughts

Ecommerce businesses looking to dominate the market must prepare themselves to adopt the latest trends as soon as possible. In 2021, voice commerce, omnichannel shopping, AI, and AR will likely be prevalent. More and more online businesses will start accepting crypto payments to entice more customers to choose their brand. Dynamic pricing will still remain an effective way to attract shoppers.

Paid Social Marketing Pro Tips for Small Businesses

Paid Social Marketing: Pro Tips for Small Businesses

By | Online Entrepreneur News

There are two kinds of social marketing: organic and paid. With audience demographics and interests becoming more diverse than ever, paid social marketing is an efficient way to target customers with demographics and interests that align with your business. It’s considered best practice to invest in social marketing at least in the beginning stages of your business, because it helps get the ball rolling. Below are five action steps for a successful paid social marketing campaign.

Decide on a realistic budget

A good marketing campaign yields the highest possible Return On Investment (ROI) or, in marketing terms, Return On Advertising Spend (ROAS). Determine your monthly budget to go towards paid social marketing. How much should you spend on marketing? Generally speaking, small to medium-sized businesses put aside 10 to 15 percent of the earnings for marketing expenses.

The devil is in the details

You should be able to set detailed perimeters, especially if local targeting is integral to your business. How detailed is the audience demographic specifications on the ad platform of your choice? In terms of local targeting, is your ad range specific enough to target only the areas your business covers?

Find out whether you can narrow down the geographic location settings. For example, if you run a dry cleaning business in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, it doesn’t really make sense to include people who live in the Upper East Side in your local targeting.

Similarly, interest targeting alone could lead to a meaningless campaign. For example, if you run a cafe in New York, it serves no purpose for someone who actively interacts with coffee contents but lives in Los Angeles to see your ad.

First determine whether local targeting is essential to your business. If it is, you should be able to specify the target to cover only your primary area of business. You might need granular targeting to make this possible.

Identify who contributes to actual sales

Which segment of your customer demographics contributes to sales the most? Is it men in their twenties or women in their thirties? Does your data show any correlation between sales and customers’ location–urban vs. rural? Demographic analysis is a must to understand the audience and launch a successful paid social campaign.

Choose the right space

Find the optimal advertising media for your business. Is your product or service most popular on Instagram? Instagram requires visual representation of your business, which means you need to have resources to design images. Choose the right media with your business’s appeal point and resource allocation in mind. For instance, Facebook and Instagram require a lot of graphic designing and occasional video editing. If you’re unsure where to start, social listening tools like Hootsuite is a great place to get to know the different social networks.

Measure success with social media KPIs

This is especially relevant to Online to Offline (O2O) businesses. Even with high impressions, engagement and click-through rate of an ad, there’s no way to find out just how much the ad has contributed to actual store visits and sales. The only way to find out the efficiency of social ads is to ask the visitors how they heard about your business, especially whether they’ve heard from your paid advertising source. Identify the percentage of sales that comes from paid social marketing so that you can set your KPIs accordingly.

Selling Online? Here Are 4 Things You Need to Know About SEO.

By | seo advice for business

These days, startups live and die by the clicks they get. If your website isn’t optimized for search, customers won’t find you, much less buy from you.

But SEO, much like the internet it runs on, is constantly evolving. Keeping up with all the new rules, strategies and best practices can be a job in itself. If you’re not in a position to hire an SEO expert, follow these expert tips to boost your position in the rankings.

1. Realize that SEO is about more than just keywords

While SEO does focus on keywords, traffic and how well your site is ranking, it’s concerned with much more than that. SEO is about creating effective customer service funnels, sharing high-quality content and standing out among competitors.

Without a strong SEO strategy, your website will likely be lost in the lower depths of the search results. No matter how local your customer base is, or how high-quality your product, it’s irrelevant if you’re hidden from view. SEO has become a requirement for modern businesses to thrive, one that can make or break your company.

To implement a good SEO strategy, start with your site’s content. Is it easy to read, and does it answer the questions your audience is asking? Does it hold their attention? If your bounce rate and time on site metrics suggest the answer is “no,” create high-quality content that does.

How fast does your site load? Does it contain relevant links and offer customer support? Despite the complexity of SEO algorithms, all of them focus on customer experience. A fast-loading site that answers visitors’ questions and provides needed support will encourage them to linger.

Longer sessions and more visitors mean a higher rank in the search results. A higher rank brings in more traffic, which means more potential sales — and the cycle continues.

2. Experiment relentlessly with SEO

search engine optimizationJust as search ranking factors change, so do keyword values and search volumes. Early and ongoing adjustment is key.

Some agencies focus on on-page SEO, such as optimizing conversion-oriented pages for specific keywords. Others do off-site work, such as building backlinks from third-party publications.

Start with what you can control: your site. If not enough people are filling out your contact form, try placing it somewhere else on the page. If your traffic flow isn’t going to where you want, relink your pages to make it easier. Revisit old blog posts and link them to new content.

If you’re unsure where to begin, don’t hesitate to ask your audience. Beyond the metrics you can find in SEMrush or Google Analytics, send out surveys to current customers. You can even have employees test your user experience and take notes.

With algorithms being updated regularly, keeping up with your website will prevent your page rank from being throttled. Not only will this result in higher SEO performance, but you’ll enjoy more sales and visibility, too.

3. Invest in rich, helpful content

transparent-employeeThe more people see your site, the more important strong content becomes. Not only is your brand image at stake, but Google ranks sites by how well they satisfy a visitor’s search intent.

When users do a web search, they’re looking for someone to solve a problem or fill a need. If your site — their first impression of your business — doesn’t do that, you risk losing them right away. Google will register the brief time they spent on your site and downgrade your ranking accordingly.

One way to stop users in their tracks — in a good way — is by using video. Pages with video retain visitors an average of 2.6 times longer than those without. When they click an eye-catching video and watch it for a minute or so, that tells Google your page satisfied their search intent. As a result, it will rank you higher in its search results.

Even with excellent videos, though, too much of a good thing can backfire. If you add excessive videos to one page, you might confuse your customer or even slow down your website.

Remember, be kind to your visitors. Make what they’re looking for easy to find, and create a good first impression with a great user experience. The SEO will follow.

4. Aim for the sweet spot

Some SEO strategies go after low-hanging fruit. Others play the long game, building enormous amounts of backlinks to own highly competitive terms. The sweet spot is low keyword difficulty, low competition, and high search volume.

Using tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help you find the right keywords and identify overlooked SEO opportunities. Comparing performance every month or quarter can give you valuable insights into what’s working and what isn’t.

Short-tail keywords like “graphics cards” will have higher volume and more competition. Long-tail keywords like “best gaming computer graphics cards” will have less volume but less competition as well. You’re looking for one like “fastest graphics cards,” which has less competition than the former but more volume than the latter.

Again, ongoing experimentation is important. For example, there might be a boost in graphics card search volume around the holidays. Similarly, when a manufacturer launches a new card, a “name + graphics card” keyword might skyrocket.

With algorithms being updated regularly, keeping up with your website will prevent your page rank from being throttled. Not only will this result in higher SEO performance, but you’ll enjoy more sales and visibility, too.

The Most Common Web Accessibility Issues to Avoid

The Most Common Web Accessibility Issues to Avoid

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) came into effect in 1990, it has required that places of public accommodation meet certain standards of accessibility for people with disabilities. The definition of “places of public accommodation” such as schools or offices changed little over the next two decades until 2010 when the Department of Justice (DOJ) published in the Federal Register rules that websites were to also be included under that definition.

Web accessibility lets people with cognitive difficulties, vision impairment, or those who are deaf or hard of hearing gain access to online content such as webpages, electronic documents, and multimedia. Part of this accessibility includes content designed to work specifically with assistive devices such as screen readers, alternative keyboards, or joysticks that are used by people with a range of impairments.

ADA-compliant websites are coded in a way that allow vision-impaired people, for instance, to order groceries or access their banking information online using screen readers. Another example of web accessibility is creating sites that allow people with epilepsy to safely navigate webpages without increased seizure risk. The goal is to create digital spaces that can be as easily navigated by everyone as physical public spaces.

Accessibility Issues to be Aware of

Good news: Coding an ADA-compliant website is achievable with minimal expense and minimal impact on usability or design — if some basic guidelines and strategies are followed. The following list details the best ways to avoid the seven most common web accessibility issues.

Navigation

This is probably the most important accessibility issue and applies to any website. Whether people have a disability or not, if a site has not been properly designed to allow for simple navigation, some of the website’s information will be difficult to access.

There are two main elements that relate to navigation:

Tab-through order.

For people with disabilities, it’s extremely important that sites can be navigated using only a keyboard. This often means that the “tab” key is used to move through different sections within a webpage. Accessible websites should be structured so that pressing “tab” logically moves the user from the address bar to menus, across form fields and links, and to any other content areas in a clear and easy-to-follow manner. This let users who rely on keyboard navigation to move through a page in an intuitive way even if they can’t see the screen.

Landmarks.

Just as physical landmarks help people navigate in real space, landmarks in a website help users navigate a page. These digital landmarks are special labels included in the site code that provide navigation indicators. Landmarks will, for example, allow screen readers to identify and communicate with the page’s navigation menu so that users can access that menu quickly without having to listen to all the text on a page.

Site Structure

Properly structured websites use levels of text that have been logically named to show the relationships between different areas of content. For web users without vision impairment, people can understand site structure and a page’s content naturally and quickly by scanning for titles or headings. For people who cannot rely on vision-dependent cues, pages should be structured to provide similar key information to screen readers.

This can be achieved by making sure each page is structured to include:

Unique titles.

All pages should be given a logical and unique title so that no two pages share the same title. The page title should appear within the browser above the web address bar.

Headings.

Headings should logically progress so that sections containing content are formatted using heading style designations such as “Heading 1”, “Heading 2”, and so on instead of relying on variations in the visual text such as font or font size changes.

Lists.

Any bulleted or numbered list should be identified as such rather than by using indents or symbols to indicate it. Besides helping users identify information as belonging to a specific list, following this practice helps communicate the number of items in the list.

Text

More than 7 million American adults have some form of vision impairment, representing roughly 2% of the population. This includes a wide range of vision problems including nearsightedness, color blindness, or complete loss of vision. Developing web pages that allow for flexibility in the way text is displayed provides users with a wide range of simple options that can significantly improve how easy it is to read a site’s text.

Text options should include:

Size.

web designUsers should be able to easily increase or decrease text size. Text should also be able to be effectively displayed across a range of device types including desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Contrast.

Proper color contrast between text and backgrounds reduces challenges created by color blindness or other vision impairment conditions. WCAG 2.0 has clear guidelines on contrast levels for a range of text sizes.

Color.

Colors should not be used to convey meaning. If developers wish to use colors to communicate something meaningful, alternative options should also be provided to communicate the meaning. This applies to features such as highlighted text.

Images

Using images rather than text to convey meaning or to navigate webpages prevents people from being able to properly access information.

Some of the key issues related to imagery include:

Images instead of text.

pay per clickImportant information displayed as an image should be avoided. Examples of this are a “home” button that’s an image of a house. Sometimes text is displayed as an image. Unfortunately, screen readers treat an image showing text as if it were a photo or a logo. This, in turn, prevents users from being able to properly navigate or understand key elements of the page.

Text for images.

Adding text descriptions to images allows vision-impaired users to understand what is being displayed. This can be important for graphics such as flowcharts, schematics, maps, graphs, or menu buttons. A lack of additional text to support images was one of the key factors cited in the landmark accessibility class action lawsuit that was successfully brought against the retailer Target.

Color.

Color shouldn’t be used to convey important information. For instance, consider a map that uses color-coded location markers to display a green start line or a red finish line. To assist people with color blindness or other vision impairment to understand maps or location-based information, supporting text should be included.

Hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are one of the main features of websites, allowing people to easily navigate to other pages to seek out additional details of related information. There are, however, important differences in the way that sighted people and vision-impaired people navigate and access hyperlinks on a page.

Clarity.

While people without impairment can scan pages to find links to useful information from within the context of the text surrounding those links, people relying on assistive devices such as screen readers often access hyperlinks as part of a list that has no additional context. For this reason, sites shouldn’t name links using terms such as “read more.” That gives no context for people who access links from a list.

Readability.

Hyperlink addresses can sometimes be made up of long strings of letters, numbers, and symbols. Listening to links like these read out loud is arduous. Hyperlinks should use common terms and language instead of just stating the web address.

Distinctiveness.

Clearly identify links. This means they should either be underlined or in italics instead of relying on color to distinguish them from standard text.

Multimedia

There are many ways in which the accessibility of multimedia content can be improved. In this area, software and machine-learning technologies are rapidly improving to provide efficient and automatic services such as auto captioning.

Video.

For people in the deaf community or for those hard of hearing, captioning and transcripts can provide synchronized text when viewing a video or a transcript text file that can be read separately. Modern software has allowed the captioning process to be done automatically as well as being able to identify other non-verbal information by identifying when music or laughter occurs on screen.

Audio.

Text versions of any audio files should be made available.

Animations.

Some people with cognitive disabilities find animations or other on- screen movement to be excessively distracting. This being the case, all site animations should include an option to disable or pause them.

Forms

Since online documentation or forms feature prominently on many government as well as nongovernment websites, it’s important that they be properly designed. Inaccessible forms was one of the elements specifically mentioned in the 2015 class action accessibility complaint filed against the shoe manufacturer Reebok.

These factors need to be considered in all form designs:

Navigation

The user should be able to logically tab through each of the fields in the document.

Instruction and labeling.

Instructions related to form fields are typically locked to prevent editing of non-field content. Unfortunately, that makes the instructions related to those form fields unreadable to a screen reader. All form fields, checkboxes, or dropdown menus should be clearly labeled and capable of being read by screen readers.

Time-outs.

Many online forms incorporate a time-out feature for security purposes. Unfortunately, this can leave users navigating by keyboard or those using screen readers insufficient time to complete the form — even if they complete it in one continuous session. Form pages should be designed to allow the user to extend the time to complete a form when necessary.

Bringing It All Together

It is simple to avoid web accessibility issues by having a strong familiarity with the WCAG 2.0 standard and by following practices and checklists that address the most common accessibility issues. Another key point to remember is that accessibility is better addressed in the earliest stages of design and development rather than being dealt with as an afterthought so that code needs to be retroactively changed.

It is also important to remember that once a website or app has been released — even if it has been carefully designed and accessibility testing has checked for ADA compliance — that ongoing maintenance is still required. Ongoing maintenance will ensure that accessibility issues don’t crop up from site updates or changes in the way that people access the web via new types of assistive devices. Every organization should have a person with a clearly defined role assigned to routinely check for accessibility issues and to quickly address them if they arise.

Web Accessibility Laws in the United States

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

What’s required to meet accessibility standards in the United States? Here’s everything you need to know to avoid accessibility violations.

What Are Web Accessibility Laws?

ADATitle III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination “on the basis of disability in the activities of public accommodations.” While the law was enacted primarily to focus on obstacles at physical locations, it’s being applied to websites as well.

Title II of the ADA applies to state and local governments. Federal agencies, government contractors, and programs that receive federal funding are also subject to Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, amended to address online resources.

If a website is inaccessible to those with disabilities, the business could be required to redesign the website, incur monetary damages, and pay attorneys’ fees.

When it comes to US web accessibility standards, US businesses are on notice.

Who Does Web Accessibility Law Benefit?

61 million Americans report having a disability that affects major life activities, according to the Center for Disease Control. That works out to 25% of all adults living in the U.S. The CDC classifies disabilities as those affected by these categories:

  • Mobility
  • Vision
  • Hearing
  • Cognition
  • Independent Living
  • Self-Care

Web accessibility laws and US web accessibility standards are aimed at making sure anyone suffering from these disabilities have the same right of access as non-disabled.

Who Is Required to Follow Web Accessibility Laws?

marketing-to-people-with-disabilitiesGenerally speaking, any business that is public-facing is required to comply with web accessibility standards and guidelines. The Americans with Disabilities Act applies to private businesses in one of these 12 categories:

  • Lodging
  • Businesses serving food or drink
  • Entertainment or exhibition
  • Public gathering
  • Sales or rental businesses
  • Service establishments
  • Public transportation
  • Public display
  • Recreation
  • Education
  • Social services
  • Exercise or recreation

The ADA applies to state and local governments in addition to Section 504 and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which was amended for online resources.

Also, many states have adopted their own rules, modeled on these regulations and standards.

How Are Web Accessibility Laws Enforced?

The federal government, through the Department of Justice, can sue in court for enforcement of ADA laws. It can seek changes and civil penalties. More commonly, businesses are the target of class action suits. Dominos, Netflix, and Target all faced lawsuits by advocacy groups over the accessibility of their websites, forcing changes to company practices.

Class action suits for ADA violations are on the rise. 2,285 were filed last year representing an increase of 181% over the previous year. Most cases settle out of court with companies agreeing to make changes to its website.

How to Comply with US Web Accessibility Standards

While the ADA prohibits discrimination based on disability, it does not detail how to comply with US web accessibility laws online. In fact, it does not address websites at all. There is no official criteria listed in ADA laws.

Court rulings have favored businesses, however, that followed the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide a list of recommendations to make online content more accessible to those with disabilities. It covers four main areas:

Perceivable

All users, including those with impaired vision, should be able to see and read your website.

Operable

Websites should be responsive and easy to navigate for all users across multiple browsers and mobile devices

Understandable

Websites should be organized in a way that’s easy to use and use language that most customers can understand.

Robust

Websites should integrate with tools (Assistive Technology or AT) that are used by users with disabilities.

Google Ads Benchmark Report Q4 2020

Google Ads Benchmark Report Q4 2020

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Report Highlights

  • Google paid search CPC increased for the first quarter of 2020 in Q4, rising 4% year over year after a 1% decline in Q3. The quick reversal in CPC growth in the back half of the year was remarkable after a 17% decline in Q2. Click growth slowed from 30% in Q3 to 23% in Q4, but spend growth held steady from quarter to quarter at 28%.
  • One likely cause of increased CPC growth as well as slower click growth in Q4 was Amazon’s surging presence in both Google Shopping and text ads auctions against Tinuiti retailers. The ecommerce giant reached highs not seen since January 2020 in the middle of December, and appeared to become much more aggressive with ad campaigns immediately after pausing ads entirely on Thanksgiving Day.
  • Retailers saw much higher paid search conversion rate than last year for much of Q4, but saw a quick drop in the middle of December as shipping concerns, dwindling top-seller inventory, and the effects of a prolonged holiday shopping season seemed to impact performance. A very similar trend was observed for Amazon advertisers, and in the case of both Google and Amazon ads conversion rate quickly rebounded and was up year over year for the final week and a half of the quarter.
  • With COVID-19 cases continuing to surge, get location details clicks, the vast majority of which are attributed to ads on Google Maps, declined at least 20% year over year for each month of the quarter. As the pandemic continues to weigh on travel and brick-and-mortar shopping activity, it’s likely that traffic from this click type will continue to show declines in the first few months of 2021.
  • Search-driven sales tracked via Amazon Attribution, a tool used to attribute sales that happen on Amazon to efforts across other channels, peaked in Q4 during the week of Amazon Prime Day. While sales surged again during the weeks of Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, neither rose to the levels of Amazon’s premiere sales event.
  • Discovery campaigns have grown quickly in adoption, and in Q4 2020 there were 73% more advertisers actively deploying the campaign type than in Q1 2020. Among the inventory that can be targeted with these campaigns are placements on the ‘Promotions’ and ‘Social’ tabs in Gmail, and advertisers will have to go through Discovery campaigns to access this inventory soon as the Gmail-only campaign type will be sunset as of July 1, 2021.
  • The share of paid search clicks attributed to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) continued to slip on phones, dropping from 11% last Q4 to 7% in Q4 2020. Reliant on cookie tracking to place website visitors into targetable audiences, RLSA share might continue to slip as cookies are steadily restricted. RLSA share can also be impacted by changes in advertiser strategy, as well as shifts in the makeup of the universe of Google searchers, which can certainly happen during periods of mass shifts to ecommerce such as the one witnessed in 2020.
  • Customer Match audiences, which rely on PII including email addresses, physical addresses, and phone numbers, continue to account for about 3% of paid search clicks. Advertisers should look to target these customers with smart ad copy and landing pages to optimize the customer experience as best as possible based on known customer traits heading out of the busy Q4 holiday shopping season.
  • Phones continued to account for 69% of all paid search clicks in Q4 2020, the same figure observed in Q3. While phones have long accounted for the lion’s share of paid search traffic, growth in click share from the device type has slowed markedly as smartphone penetration growth has slowed in the US. Tablet devices now account for just 3% of paid search clicks, and these devices have seen a decline in popularity over the last couple of years.

Google paid search CPC increases year over year for first time in 2020.

1 Google US Paid Search Y-Y Growth

Average cost per click for Google paid search advertisers rose 4% year over year in Q4, the first quarter of 2020 in which pricing increased, as ad auctions were highly competitive during the extended Q4 holiday shopping season that started as early as October for some retailers. The largest decline in CPC of 2020 occurred in Q2, for which Amazon was absent from ad auctions for much of the quarter, and Amazon is now back at full force in many product categories. Click growth slipped from 30% in Q3 to 23% n Q4, as spend growth held steady at 28%.

Shopping click growth slows but remains above 2019 levels.

2 Google US Shopping Ads Y-Y GrowthShopping clicks grew an astounding 53% in Q2 and 44% in Q3, as the early months of the pandemic sent shoppers online and some large advertisers like Amazon had to pull back on advertising given the flood of demand. Auctions during the Q4 holiday shopping period included a resurgent Amazon, and click growth slowed to 36%, though that figure is still higher than the four quarters preceding Q2 2020. CPC growth recovered slightly from a 7% decline in Q3 to a 6% decline in Q4.

Google text ad CPC continued to climb year over year in Q4.

3 Google US Text Ads Y-Y GrowthAverage CPC for Google text ads rebounded faster than Shopping ads, growing 4% year over year in Q3 compared to a 7% decline for Shopping. That dynamic continued into Q4, with text ads CPC rising 12% compared to a 6% decline for Shopping. The jump in CPC growth drove an acceleration in spend growth from 25% in Q3 to 29% in Q4, even as click growth slipped from 21% to 15%. Q4 click growth was still stronger than any quarter between Q2 2019 and Q1 2020, and expansions to the definition of close variants are likely resulting in keywords being placed in more auctions than they otherwise would be.

Rebound in Google CPC growth was strongest on desktop in Q4.

4 Google US Paid Search CPC Y-Y Growth by Device TypeCPC growth was stronger on all device types in Q4 compared to Q3, as the busy holiday shopping season brought competitive ad auctions, highlighted by Amazon’s surging ad impression share during the core period between Thanksgiving and just before Christmas. However, desktop CPC growth recovery was much stronger than that of mobile devices, going from a 1% decline in Q3 to a 10% increase in Q4, compared to phone CPC growth which went from a 1% decline to just 1% growth.

Amazon’s impression share in Google Shopping auctions topped 50% in the late-December push.

5 Amazon US Google Shopping Ads Impression ShareAfter reactivating campaigns in early June following a twelve week hiatus, Amazon’s impression share in Google Shopping auctions held roughly steady from late July to early November. The ecommerce giant turned ads off completely on Thanksgiving Day, possibly to reduce load on a thinner staff during the holiday, but was back in auctions the very next day. From there, it appeared to become much more aggressive over the next three weeks, topping a 50% impression share during the week of December 14, the first time since January 2020 it reached such heights, before reducing its ad presence in the final weeks of the year.

Amazon text ad impression share hits its highest level since January 2020.

6 Amazon US Google Text Ads Impression ShareMuch like in Google Shopping, Amazon exited Google text ad auctions in early-March when it was bombarded with demand as Americans began to limit travel and in-store purchases and increasingly ordered goods online. Amazon’s text ad impression share also followed a similar pattern as in Shopping throughout the holiday season, holding steady for the first several weeks of Q4 before surging towards the end of the holiday season.

Conversion rate tumbles in the lead up to Christmas Day amid concerns about shipping delays.

7 Google US Retail Paid Search Conversion Rate Y-Y GrowthFor much of the quarter paid search conversion rate for retailers was more than 20% higher than last year across ad formats, likely spurred on by high ecommerce demand and holiday discounts that were pushed out much earlier than normal for many retailers to entice shoppers to convert earlier in the holiday shopping season. However, year-over-year conversion rate growth tumbled between December 11 and December 20, a very similar trend to one observed for Amazon advertisers over the same period. The late-season decline in this metric probably reflects shoppers’ concerns over getting products in time for Christmas, as well as the effects of a prolonged holiday shopping season. Dwindling inventory for top-selling products also affected performance for some advertisers.

Get location details clicks were down 33% Y/Y in November.

8 Google US Get Location Details Y-Y GrowthGet location details clicks, which predominantly come from ads featured on Google Maps, were down at least 20% year over year for each month of Q4. The greatest decline came in November with a 33% decline, as many shoppers that might have otherwise gone into stores for Black Friday stayed home during the pandemic. As COVID-19 continues to have a significant impact on movement and brick-and-mortar shopping, we will likely continue to see year-over-year declines in get location details clicks into Q1.

Paid search sales tracked through Amazon Attribution peaked the week of Prime Day.

9 Sales Driven by Search Tracked viaAmazon AttributionAmazon orders and sales attributed to advertisers’ paid search efforts rose more than 5x from the first week of October to the second, as Amazon’s Prime Day event took place on October 13 and 14 this year instead of the typical July timing. As was the case with other channels such as social, Amazon Attribution sales tied to search efforts surged the week of Thanksgiving, but not nearly to the extent that was observed during the week of Prime Day.

Phones accounted for 69% of all Google paid search clicks in Q4 2020.

10 Google US Paid Search Click Share by Device TypeClick share by device type remained nearly identical from Q3 to Q4, with phones continuing to account for 69% of all clicks. While phone share of US paid search traffic has risen significantly over the years, the pace of growth for smartphone penetration has slowed. Tablet devices have steadily become less important to search campaigns over the years as tablet purchases have slowed dramatically, and the device type now accounts for just 3% of all paid search clicks.

Text ad CPC 12% year over year Q4 growth was driven by 18% growth on desktop.

11 Google US Paid Search CPC Y-Y GrowthCPC growth was much stronger for text ads than Shopping ads in Q4, and it seems that major advertisers like Amazon ramping up during the final quarter may have had more of an impact in text ad auctions than Shopping. For both Shopping and text ads, desktop CPC growth outpaced other device types, though CPC growth recovered across all device types and ad formats for the quarter.

Phone CPC remains far below that of desktop for many advertisers.

12 Google US Paid Search Phone CPC Relative to DesktopPhone CPC relative to desktop remained roughly stable year over year for the median advertiser studied, moving modestly from 43% lower to 45% lower. While there are often slight shifts from one quarter to the next, this comparison has remained remarkably stable over the last couple of years for Tinuiti advertisers. As advertisers have control over how much is spent for ad clicks from phones relative to desktop, the lower CPC is largely reflective of the lower expected value of phone traffic compared to desktop for many advertisers.

RLSA and Customer Match lists outperform non-audience members across devices.

13 Google US Paid Search Phone CPC Relative to DesktopSearchers included in Remarketing Lists for Search Ads and Customer Match audiences drove sales per click between 59% and 117% higher than searchers that were not included in any audience type across device types in Q4 2020. Optimizing campaign components like ad copy, landing pages and bids can help advertisers drive even more value out of these customers than they otherwise would, and the high direct response measures of these audiences are often at least partially reflective of marketing efforts outside of search that have produced these customers.

RLSA share of paid search clicks falls down to 7% on phones in Q4 2020.

14 Google US Paid Search RLSA Click ShareThe share of Google paid search clicks attributed to Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) declined across all device types over the last year, but the dip was greatest on phones, for which share decreased from 11% to 7% year over year In Q4. RLSA share can be affected by changes to restrictions on placing cookies for website visitors, as well as changes in consumer behavior and advertiser strategy. For example, if a greater share of relevant searchers were new/unknown to an advertiser in Q4 relative to Q3, RLSA share might slip without any adjustment in strategy by the advertiser or shifts in the ability of Google to include website visitors in RLSA audiences.

Customer Match share of paid search clicks holds steady in Q4.

15 Google US Paid Search Customer Match ShareThe share of paid search clicks attributed to Customer Match audiences held steady from Q3 to Q4 at around 3% of traffic across device types. Based on lists of customer emails, phone numbers, and/or physical addresses, Customer Match isn’t reliant on placing cookies on searchers’ browsers as is the case with RLSA, but is limited by the share of users in a list that Google is able to identify for targeting. Customers for which an advertiser has Gmail addresses to use in Customer Match tend to be the most likely to get identified by Google compared to other email domains.

Similar Audiences click share is up year over year across device types.

16 Google US Paid Search RLSA Click ShareGoogle creates Similar Audiences based on searchers that exhibit similar query behavior as members of RLSA and Customer Match audiences. While these users are usually not as valuable in terms of direct response as those individuals that have either provided a brand with PII or visited the company’s website, they can be hugely valuable in helping to segment those searchers that might be most similar to known customers in allowing advertisers to better optimize components like ad copy and landing pages. In Q4 2020, 13% of all desktop paid search clicks and 17% of phone and tablet clicks were attributed to these audiences.

The number of advertisers deploying Google Discovery campaigns is up more than 70%.

17 Number of Advertisers Deploying Google Discovery CampaignsGoogle discovery campaign adoption soared over the course of 2020, and in Q4 2020 there were 73% more active Discovery advertisers than in the first quarter of the year. Google Discovery campaigns target inventory ranging from the Discover feed to placements on Gmail and YouTube, and advertisers can choose between setting a target cost per acquisition or maximizing the number of conversions driven under a set budget. Gmail Ads campaigns will be sunset on July 1, 2021, and advertisers wishing to target inventory in Gmail ‘Social’ or ‘Promotions’ tabs will need to go through Discovery campaigns moving forward

LSI Keywords: What are They and Do They Matter?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

People say that LSI keywords have the power to boost Google rankings. Is this true, or is it yet another SEO myth?

Read almost any article about LSI keywords, and you’ll be told two things:

  • Google uses a technology called LSI to index web pages.
  • Using LSI keywords in your content helps you rank higher on Google.
  • Both of these claims are technically false.

In this guide, you’ll learn why that is and what to do about it.

But first, the basics…

What are LSI keywords?

LSILSI keywords are words and phrases that Google sees as semantically-related to a topic—at least according to many in the SEO community. If you’re talking about cars, then LSI keywords might be automobile, engine, road, tires, vehicle, and automatic transmission.

But, according to Google’s John Mueller, LSI keywords don’t exist:

“There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry”.—John

So what’s the deal here?

Before we answer that question, we first need to understand a bit more about LSI itself.

What is Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)?

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), or Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), is a natural-language processing technique developed in the 1980s.

Unfortunately, unless you’re familiar with mathematical concepts like eigenvalues, vectors, and single value decomposition, the technology itself isn’t that easy to understand.

For that reason, we won’t be tackling how LSI works.

Instead, we’ll focus on the problem it was created to solve.

Here’s how the creators of LSI define this problem:

The words a searcher uses are often not the same as those by which the information sought has been indexed.

But what does this actually mean?

Say that you want to know when summer ends and fall begins. Your WiFi is down, so you go old school and grab an encyclopedia. Instead of randomly flicking through thousands of pages, you lookup “fall” in the index and flick to the right page.

Clearly, that’s not the type of fall you wanted to learn about.

Not one to be defeated that easily, you flick back and realize that what you’re looking for is indexed under “autumn”—another name for fall.

The problem here is that “fall” is a synonym and polysemic word.

What are synonyms?

Synonyms are words or phrases that mean the same or nearly the same thing as another word or phrase.

Examples include rich and wealthy, fall and autumn, and cars and automobiles.

Here’s why synonyms are problematic, according to the LSI patent:

[…] there is a tremendous diversity in the words people use to describe the same object or concept; this is called synonymy. Users in different contexts, or with different needs, knowledge or linguistic habits will describe the same information using different terms. For example, it has been demonstrated that any two people choose the same main keyword for a single, well-known object less than 20% of the time on average.

But how does this relate to search engines?