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Abishek GM (Kev)

The Launch of NEW Online Stores During The Coronavirus Outbreak

The Launch of NEW Online Stores During The Coronavirus Outbreak

By | Networking Bizz News

The internet has taken over and established quite the hold over many businesses thriving or otherwise. The platform to build, manage, and propagate is what the worldwide web does. The products and services being introduced into the market usually expand better and grow through the lens of the digitally enabled sites. The sites not only improve the condition of the existing sales but also make more people aware of it.

With the pandemic of Coronavirus growing by leaps and bounds, many businesses are seriously considering the e-commerce sector. It is no longer a figment of our imagination but has amassed a lot of popularity the world over.

The nature and form of the business are essential, but the vital point to be remembered is the outreach. Some good companies remain in the backseat due to the limitation of not reaching the masses. En-masse awareness is crucial for the real success of the e-commerce platform.

Before we dive deeper into the context of e-commerce and its need in today’s troubled times, let us answer the basics.

E-Commerce And The Know-How

The e-commerce platform exists for anyone and everyone who want to increase visibility and give their business a fighting chance to survive online. There are different types of mediums for which digital marketing works, such as essential and non-essential goods, services, trades, collaborations, and so forth.

E.g., a physical good or service like the conventionally used practice of the brick and mortar model can also be propagated through these e-commerce networks. This model is nothing but the traditionally present stores that sell the products offline and have been doing so for years. The owners of the shops don’t really have a presence in the digital world and have found comfort in being away from the online community.

But, let us ask some serious questions here:
  • What if they were exposed to the pros and cons of this initiative?
  • What if they were allowed to test the waters and made technically aware of the know-how?
  • What if this is the way society will function in the near future?
  • What if the digital world needs to be revamped in light of the current outbreak?

It’s time we stop dueling with the “what if’s” and address these questions with a solid answer to help you once and for all. The e-commerce business is here to stay, and it is nonetheless appealing.

So, here is a quick question:

What is required of you to start with an extensive e-commerce business?

Let us help you with setting the cornerstone and aid you in navigating the path better with time and money at your disposal.

Here are a few steps which will help reduce the chaos while setting up your business online:

  1. Know Your Product: The business being set up online is for the purpose of strategizing the sales as per the changing dynamics. So, you should be sure about the product being marketed online. If you are still contemplating which product or service you need to select, then there are many sites online which can help you in making the selection. The decision is yours and of the team supporting you in the endeavor – so make it count.
  2. How It’s Marketed: Any e-commerce business before its advent and spread is just an idea in a person’s head or amidst like-minded people. So, to give that idea a medium through which it can come to life, it is necessary to set into motion the strategies to sell the product or service online. It is always essential to plan and establish the process well to achieve success in the project. Laying the groundwork will facilitate the process and make it easier to work with.

Once you are well-versed with the know-how of the e-commerce platform, it is structurally ready to be launched online. For the launch, one needs to do the initial prepping so that there is no cause for delay, and there is no resulting impact on the business. The basics should be tended first to approve the set up of the site, the design, and content of the site which includes the name, branding, and registration of the site.

Each of the above-mentioned points should be thought out thoroughly and understood well so that the launch does not get impacted in any way.

Once you are past the initial hiccup of setting up a business online, you can start thinking about the profits and growth of the business. This particular point will take up most of your space and time when you are trying to grow the business.

Before getting into the dynamics full-swing, it is necessary to understand certain terms like content-driven applications concerning search engine optimization (SEO). These keywords enable the users and consumers to identify your site and make it easier for you to appear in online searches. This helps increase the number of visitors to your e-commerce website, which, in turn, increases the traffic to the site. Internet traffic literally translates into veritable profits, so it is better to enhance the performance of the online business.

Once the profits ring the cash registers, the business grows and the portfolio can be branched out. With respect to the branches, the sectors can be increased in different locations as well as the delivery services can also be improved.

Considering the delivery services, the situation today asks for businesses to adapt to this trend more and in a better way. It is no longer a thing of the past but a necessity to make a safer today possible. Deliveries in the time of quarantine and isolation are equivalent to life-saving practices that can be adopted by various online businesses.

There are many pros to launching the e-commerce platform for your business:
  1. This day and age call for timely action and a proactive approach. Gone are the days when we could step out of the house and get what we like whenever we want. This isn’t the case anymore. People need to be more vigilant and abide by the rule of staying indoors. E-commerce serves as a simple plan in difficult times.
  2. Social distancing is the norm today, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot extend a helping hand or support each other wholeheartedly through a virtual network. Digital businesses are the new marketplace and can be used to your heart’s content to spread the word not only in your street, city, or country but the whole world. The outreach is immense and necessary.
  3. Once you know how to execute your e-commerce platform through extensive planning and detailed structuring, you are not far from expanding on a global scale. As it is known, every successful enterprise or empire was initially an idea. Being quarantined at home and with all the peace and calm required, you can make your ideas matter more than ever.
  4. Nobody likes being controlled or run over, and hence they seek solace in personal ventures. You don’t need permission to run your own business, and that’s what makes it well sought after. You get the final word, and it is relatively simple to challenge oneself rather than an overbearing leader whose claims you can’t refute without getting snubbed down later. Be it quarantine or no quarantine, you are the boss, and the choice is yours; the opinion is yours, and so is the outcome.
  5. The e-commerce business is a diversified approach to a growing business. The impact is a definite ray of hope in the unpredictable nature of the market today. You had seen it all when you launched it offline, maybe on the street just around the corner or in the vicinity. The crowds have supported you so far. You can request for their support even now and start off the e-commerce business with newfound vigor. All you have to do is begin the preparations and choose a platform, like Shopify, to market the launch of your brand new e-commerce site. So, if your favorite statement is: “I want to launch an online store,” stay rest assured that e-commerce would come to your rescue.
  6. It is necessary to adapt to the evolving community and changing times so that you are more in sync with the times than before. The need of the day is to co-operate with the government and their governance to stay indoors. But what about your business? Does it mean shutdown and incurring premature losses? It may not be the case when you can adapt. You can network and collaborate with the essential goods teams and help in making these goods available to the general public. Not only this, but efforts can also be made to make medical supplies and facilities to reach them at their doorstep rather than the other way around.
  7. Before this human-made change was brought about in society, people preferred to work from anyplace and detested the idea of being bound to a specific place. They worked on their e-commerce site from co-working spaces, cafes, and even the neighborhood park. Today, work from home is non-negotiable, and the house is the new office for all of us. In such challenging times, the e-commerce platform is easy to use and significantly reliable.

Notwithstanding the concerns surrounding the online businesses, it is preferable to venture into this domain and understand the holistic approach of the e-commerce ways. Even though there is no face-to-face connection with the consumers, the personal relationship can be enhanced with virtual methods too.

Today, it is far better to go the e-commerce way since contactless delivery is a welcome change. People maintaining social distancing as a way of life prefer the e-commerce stores more than ever, and the day is not too far when digitally run stores and establishments will be the only way known to the common person.
The e-commerce business is driven and focussed on changing the way people think and act while investing in the same. It is not easy to gain customers and build the foundation of trust since many people are still apprehensive and have not really understood the whole concept. Further, in today’s scenario, people are hesitant to try out something new and also accept something instantly.

How to Launch an Online Store

Since you are decidedly aware of the e-commerce situation, there are many portals online, which will help you catapult your e-commerce business. One of the most sought after companies, as told by the Shopify blog is none other than Networking Bizz Digital.

Link:  https://www.ecommercecompanies.com/shopify-developers

You can quickly scan through our feed online and gain open access to various packages tailored to your benefit. We at Networking Bizz provide you a comprehensive package for all beginners as well as the experts. We have all the required information on our site and the necessary tools to support e-commerce website development. An evaluation of your website is offered as a complimentary service, and you can book a FREE consultation whenever you want.

For beginners, we have well-defined website design packages that can get you started. We certainly have top web designers and web developers to work on your e-commerce website. You can always ask your queries as we’re available to address any of your e-commerce related issues. The packages, such as the business package, enterprise package, and professional package can be looked at in detail and at your convenience on our official site.

Link: https://networkingbizz.com/e-commerce-website-design-packages

We know that some of you would like to learn about our success stories, and view the examples of the work done by our team of professionals as well. A section of “frequently asked questions” (FAQ) is also available on our site so that you can increase your knowledge and ask us any questions. Further, we do understand that budgeting is a crucial point to consider, so we provide you advanced services at an affordable price. You need to focus on increasing your business potential rather than the loans taken to make it happen.

Visit our website and make the decision for yourself. It would be lovely to serve you and your myriad needs!

Link: www.networkingbizz.com

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Ways to Use Social Media to Inform Your Keyword Research

Ways to Use Social Media to Inform Your Keyword Research

By | Social Media News

For many beginners (and, heck, some mid-level and even advanced SEOs), the line between search engine optimization and social media can sometimes blur.

  • Does your social media support or even help your search engine rankings?
  • How does optimizing for search on social media affect your profile’s chance of showing up to new users?
  • And what does it mean that my tweets show up in search results?

In the past, the difference between SEO and social was fairly stark.

When people search on Google or another search engine, they’re actively looking for answers or solutions to their problems.

But when scrolling through social, any post your business adds is potentially just passively reaching users.

It’s something presented to them as they’re already doing whatever else they came to that platform to do.

However, more people than ever are searching actively on social media now with hashtags and trending topics – and when they do they don’t just want an answer – they want a conversation.

Not only does this mean more opportunity for marketers to learn about our target audiences straight from their own experiences.

It also means there’s more data than ever that we can use to inform our keyword research and produce more useful targeted content.

Along with joining Facebook and LinkedIn groups to understand your target audiences on a deeper level, here are some ways to use social media for keyword research.

1. Use Facebook Ad Targeting Options for a Glimpse into Audiences

Because we put so much info into Facebook, their targeting data is extremely specific.

You may know exactly who your target market is, but you could find new or supplemental audiences that could be served by your company.

Facebook advertising gives you options to dig into an audience’s:
  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Connections
  • Relationship Status
  • Languages
  • Education
  • Workplaces

Using these, you can pinpoint similar audiences or even dig deeper into the demographics of your existing audience to truly understand their lives.

Your B2B software may target Sally Salesperson, but how does it make her life outside of her job decidedly better?

Maybe it means small tasks are automated so she can spend less time in the office and travel more if that’s what people in her audience love to do.

And how can you use the information in your content to drive more traffic to your site and then convert those leads into customers?

2. Dig Into Trending Topics on Twitter

A lot of what’s trending on Twitter is newsworthy content, but it’s in the conversations related to those topics that marketers can really find the details of what matters to their audiences.

Plus, you can use the exact language that your potential searchers are using too.

This is especially true if you’re actively engaged with the kind of audience on Twitter that mirrors your personas or target audiences.

Your #TrendsForYou will be even more useful.

For example, as a member of the SEO Twitter community and the admin of #SEOChat, I get a lot of info on Twitter from people who are asking questions on behalf of their SEO clients or from SEO newbies.

I can use the questions that are coming up for them and how they phrase it to determine if those types of questions are ones my audiences would have as well.

The key to this one is being active on Twitter already.

If you aren’t, there are social media monitoring tools that can help you dive deeper into the niche communities on this platform and understand the conversations that your target audiences are having.

From there, you can look into the specific questions and topics that show up in these Twitter conversations and determine how best to use them in your SEO strategy.

3. Discover What Shows Up When You Search Instagram Hashtags

.Instagram is becoming its own little hashtag search engine.

You can even follow hashtags you like now..

Many industries are utilizing Instagram for the lead-driver that it is – especially in local and creative markets.

Looking for a newborn photographer in your area #newbornphotographychicago?

Chances are you’ll want to see their work on Instagram.

Want a graphic designer to help your business #graphicdesignersofinstagram?

Get an idea of their style on Instagram.

By searching for hashtags related to your business or your target audience and then analyzing the most popular posts, you can get an idea of what works well with people looking for those hashtags.

  • What other hashtags are you seeing?
  • Could those be keywords you’re not targeting yet?
  • What does the Instagram caption say for the most popular posts?
  • Does it include key pain points or language that you’re not including in your copy?

Tools like TailWind can also give you an idea of related hashtags, and Instagram itself offers a shortlist of related hashtags to include in your research, too:

hashtags to include in your research

4. Analyze Content on Pinterest

Pinterest is a minefield of good data, and I feel like it’s gotten a bad rap as a “soft” or recreational social media platform.

I’ve noticed tons of useful business stuff posted to Pinterest recently as I’ve been scouring the web for help with my own business.

When I searched for “B2B marketing,” I got content ideas for topics related to social media, marketing tactics, how to create infographics, product launches, and more.

Analyze Content on Pinterest

With a long-tail search, I could see what more specific resources audiences are looking for and benefitting from.

Not only can you search for specific key phrases on Pinterest and get a load of top pins for inspiration, but Pinterest also offers suggested search additions to give you even more ideas as to how to customize your keyword research.

keyword research

And just like Google has autofill options in search, Pinterest offers the same, giving you even more potential keyword target ideas.

5. Find Out What Influencers Are Saying on LinkedIn

Sure, the clickbait long-form posts on LinkedIn can make you want to roll your eyes, but they resonate with users for a reason.

Find what influencers or big names in your industry are posting on LinkedIn and look at the reactions and comments they’re getting.

Just like on Twitter, people often join into the conversation on LinkedIn and these comments can also be a great source of research for what your audience is looking for/their pain points.

Assess what topics resonate most with audiences (what reactions are long-form posts getting?) and what pros and cons are being brought up in the conversation happening under the post.

Use that data to inform your own keyword research.

Social & Search Are More Compatible Than You May Think

We can learn a lot about social from search and a lot about search from social.

While they may not help each other significantly in direct ways, we can learn more about our target audiences and users from how they post, interact with, and promote information on social media platforms.

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How step by step keyword research led to an SEO goldmine

How step by step keyword research led to an SEO goldmine

By | seo advice for business

This article gives a step by step breakdown of how they uncovered a huge SEO opportunity.

KEYWORD RESEARCH

The first step in any SEO journey is keyword research. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and think about the sort of things they might type into Google.

The simpler the better. Start with the most basic search term you can think of.

Now, we’re not actively trying to rank here, we’re just trying to get an idea of what sort of content might work. And once you start sniffing around Google will give away more clues than a Scooby-Doo villain!

Firstly, let’s have a look at what Google suggests in the dropdown:

KEYWORD RESEARCH

And then the related searches:

tener

This gives us a list of potential ideas to work with:

  • A guide of the top things to do in Tenerife
  • A blog about the best beaches in Tenerife
  • A page about the weather in Tenerife

Now, it looks like the majority of Thomas Cook’s competitors are drawn to the first article.

But I actually think the page about the weather might offer more value. Let’s explore!

As great as guides and blogs are at ranking for a targeted keyword, they take a lot of manual work to put together. In contrast, leveraging an API, one weather template page could be duplicated across every Thomas Cook destination. It presents a unique opportunity to rank for hundreds of different keywords in one fell swoop.

OR NOT

In reality, however, getting any significant organic traffic from “Tenerife weather” is doubtful.

The page is dominated by weather.com’s huge box. And the results beneath are the BBC and The Met Office which are going to be pretty impossible to displace.

COULD WE BE LESS AMBITIOUS

In my own head I’m now thinking:

As always my first point of call is Google. What does Google suggest in the dropdown:

tener

And what do the related searches say:

tener

This definately feels like a Eureka moment. Instead of just one page for “Tenerife weather”, what about twelve pages, displaying weather info for each month of the year.

A confirmatory check on Ahrefs shows very healthy search volume with a low keyword difficulty score. The dream!

tener

THOMAS COOK

And that’s exactly what Thomas Cook created.

Thousands of weather pages. One for each month of the year. One for each holiday destination. All accompanied by the perfectly placed call to action reminding customers to book their holiday.

DOES IT WORK?

One million percent. Thomas Cook has 3,744 different weather pages in total pulling in nearly 500,000 organic traffic every month.

Now, homing in on just Tenerife weather:

tener

Interestingly, the page pulling in most traffic is the main weather page. The huge traffic volume more than compensating it’s low page rank. This main weather page, however, does only account for 25% of total traffic showing just how valuable the supporting monthly pages are.

You might also be wondering why there are 67 weather pages just for Tenerife. Well, Thomas Cook don’t miss a trick. They also have one page for every month of the year for towns within Tenerife. For example:

Los Cristianos – Febuary
Costa Adeje – July

This is great to hoover up traffic for the longer tail keywords.

IN SUMMARY

We started out typing Tenerife into Google, followed the trail of breadcrumbs, and ended up creating an army of weather pages mopping up some mega organic traffic.

This is textbook SEO marketing:
  • Find out what your customers search for
  • Create pages which rank for those searches
  • Once on site, sell to them

AND FINALLY

To quote Glen Allsop top quality keyword research is

And every single one of Thomas Cook’s competitors has missed this golden opportunity. What’s obvious in a case study, is far from obvious in the field.

Keyword research takes patience. And telling your manager your going to spend the majority of next year creating 4,000 weather pages takes cojones.

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The power of good SEO

The power of good Local SEO

By | seo advice for business

Chicago, 2004. The food delivery service, Grubhub, launched.

By 2007 they were established and had raised $1.1 million. The next challenge was to expand to New York.

A big part of this expansion plan was SEO. Every day, thousands of Americans search for food delivery on Google. Ranking at the top would mean thousands of new customers.

So Grubhub hired their first marketer, Casey Winters.

Casey’s first challenge was organising site structure. First he generated a parent page for New York. Then, child pages for specific foods within New York.

Now, no-matter, whether New Yorkers were searching for Food Delivery, Pizza delivery, or Vegan delivery, Grubhub had an indexed page of aggregated restaurants waiting:

grubhub

The second challenge was backlinks. In order for Grubhub’s new pages to rank well, Google needed to recognise them as sources of authority. Casey’s solution was simple:

We went to the local press, to tell them we were launching in New York, and that we wanted to give their readers $10 off their first order.

All they had to do was link to our /new-york page which explained the discount. After a while, that page built enough local links and it would rank #1.

The “link juice” then flowed downstream to each city’s specific food pages, helping them climb the search results.

And for every new market they entered, Casey replicated this strategy.

Thirteen years later

Alongside Grubhub, US food delivery is now dominated by Doordash and Uber Eats.

All have similar site structure. Grubhub’s organic traffic is 50% higher. Thirteen years later, Casey’s link-building is still paying off:

grubhub

That’s the power of good SEO.

Plant an orchard. And you’re eating fruit everyday.

The long game is the shortcut.

* The majority of “food delivery” search is local. This makes it hard to precisely measure organic traffic. The numbers are estimates from Ahrefs.

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When (& When Not) to Use Synonyms for SEO

When (& When Not) to Use Synonyms for SEO

By | seo advice for business

If you are working in SEO or just learning, at one time or another you have probably heard about synonyms by:

  • Someone telling you that you need to add synonyms to your website for SEO.
  • A plugin on your WordPress site recommended synonyms for best SEO results.
  • Seeing a mention of this article and you were curious how synonyms could improve your SEO.
  • Reading conflicting articles on synonyms and you don’t know which is true.

Whatever brought you to this article, you can make an informed decision in this confusing world of synonyms for SEO.

Why Most SEOs Tell You to Use Synonyms?

Most SEOs will tell you that you should use synonyms in your content because that’s what Google says to do, or that it is a common SEO best practice.

However, not many will tell you (nor will they know) the history of how the use of synonyms came about.

This kick-started the industry even more into a frenzy on optimizing websites with synonyms.

As I mentioned in my recent article on neural matching, SEO professionals will “… tell you to just add synonyms, however, it’s not about just adding synonyms or adjectives to your content.”

Should You Use Synonyms for SEO?

The simple answer to whether you should use synonyms for SEO is a “yes” however, this strategy should be treated carefully.

Only use synonyms when and where it flows with the natural language of the site and/or page.

‘LSI Keywords’

LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is a natural-language processing technique developed in the 1980s. “LSI keywords” are words and phrases that are semantically related to a topic.

Many SEOs lump LSI keywords in with synonyms when it comes to optimizing a website.

They assume that if you’re optimizing your website for “cars”, then the use of the word “automobiles” and “vehicles” should be used in conjunction with “transmission”, “engine”, “brakes”, “steering” and other auto-related terms.

Alternatively, Google uses neural matching which is a machine learning of various signals to determine if a page is relevant to the user’s intent from search.

For example, a user clicks a result and comes back quickly to click another result.

When a large number of users clicking the same link only to come back to try another result tells Google that the result isn’t what is expected.

The second result that users click and don’t come back will then begin to rank higher.

What Are Semantically Related Keywords?

Semantics is a classification of linguistics that focuses on deriving meaning from a series of words.

Semantically related keywords are words or phrases that are in relation to each other conceptually telling a cohesive story.

SEOs believe that having more semantically related keywords means that your webpages provide more contextual background on a topic and therefore they can perform better in search results.

The theory is that by using synonyms and other words related to your topic, Google would be able to make connections between the semantically related terms and be able to best match the user’s intent.

What Synonyms Mean for SEO

The idea that you should formulate how often you use synonyms with your focus keywords is an outdated SEO strategy.

The use of synonyms and semantically related keywords should come naturally in the flow of your website content.

Google uses the signals from users themselves more than they value the words on the page.

For example, a user searches “dog running around erratically” or “dog darting around erratically”. While they mean the same thing, they are treated as different results even though both results are explaining “zoomies”.

Synonyms Mean for SEO

Synonyms Mean for SEO

When you look at the results for “running” the text is simple with only 3 mentions of running and 13 mentions of “zoomies” with one mention of the exact phrase “dog running around erratically”.

The “darting” result has 6 mentions of “running” and 91 mentions of “zoomies” with no mention of the exact phrase or the word “darting”, and an addition of several questions and answer sections around the topic.

In addition, the “darting” result has 44 links pointing to the page with 80% of those links including topics around “zoomies”, and the URL structure is directly under the main domain.

Alternatively, the “running” result has no backlinks and the URL structure is 4 levels from the main domain yet the “running” result also ranks for “dog rushing around erratically” (though no mention of “rushing”):

Synonyms

With the “darting” result stuffing the page with the keyword “zoomies” and so many backlinks the result might show up for variations of the phrase.

By over-optimizing the page, the site has hurt itself more than it has helped.

The lesson here is to keep your content simple, use synonyms only when they make sense and don’t over-optimize your site and it’s pages.

When to Use Synonyms for SEO

Only use synonyms when it makes sense. If the data shows that users are actually searching terms related to your focus key term, then it makes sense to include them.

Don’t try to stuff your content with synonyms for the sole purpose of ranking. Google will most likely not pick up the focus term with too many synonyms or over-optimized content.

For example, I developed a test site in an attempt to get results for searches around “near me”.

The site domain is “nearyouhub.com”, that mentions “near you”, “close by”, “nearby” and more without a heavy focus on “near me”.

The site was launched 4 months ago and has been increasing in impressions for “near me” terms:

Use Synonyms for SEO

The idea behind the test is that users are searching “near me” but the language on the site doesn’t make sense to say “near me” since the site is speaking TO the user.

When & Why You Should Not Use Synonyms for SEO

In the case where your topic is clear and there are no variations that users might be using to find what they are looking for, then you should stay away from synonyms.

Words like “animal”, “forest”, “sand”, “water”, “salt” and many other words that may have other meanings might not have alternates that mean the same thing.

Your brand is an example of when you should stick to your key term and not try to work in synonyms.

For example, I had worked with Hint Water a few years ago to optimize their website. There were talks about how the blog could mention water in more creative ways.

We focused efforts on health, diet, and flavored waters when talking about the product. There were no alternative keywords to “water” or the brand name “hint”.

Conclusion

Many tools and professionals will talk you into using synonyms, and at times the strategy will make sense.

But don’t use synonyms in an effort to increase your rankings if they don’t make sense.

Instead focus on descriptive words and keep your content simple, easy to understand, and accessible to the user.

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Site Performance & Automating Speed Testing

Step Process for Understanding Site Performance & Automating Speed Testing

By | Website Design Advice

It’s no secret that site speed is important for SEO.

Not only is it used as a ranking factor by Google, but it’s also imperative for providing a good experience for users from the second they land on your site.

A slow website and poor performance will impact user experience and accessibility, as well as affect a business’s growth and, ultimately, revenue.

In fact, organizations that have invested efforts into speed improvements have seen an increase in website traffic, better engagement, and an uplift in conversions.

Pinterest is one example of this where, after implementing a performance budget, they saw an uplift in both user sentiment and engagement, which translated into a 44% increase in revenue.

A Blueprint for Performance Optimization

With all of this in mind, Paul Irish and Elizabeth Sweeny from the Google Chrome Web Platform shared a useful blueprint they have created to assess and optimize site performance, at the 2019 Google I/O event.

While this was primarily focused on development teams, there are some key tasks that are useful for SEO professionals, which I have explored further in this post.

Working on these areas will provide an opportunity for you to work more closely with your development team toward one common goal:

Providing the best experience possible for your users.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Gain an Understanding of the Key Metrics

The first step is to understand the key metrics which are used by Google when measuring a website’s page speed.

Fortunately for us, Google is open about these metrics and have detailed them clearly on a dedicated section of their development site.

The current metrics used by Google are:

  • First Contentful Paint (FCP)
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Time to Interactive (TTI)
  • Total Blocking Time (TBT)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)
  • Each of these metrics has different weights, which impact the overall performance score provided.

A number of these metrics have been used by Google for several years, however, they have recently introduced some newer ones, which have become increasingly important:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

This user-centric metric displays the render time of the largest element that is visible in the viewport.

Total Blocking Time (TBT)

TBT measures the load responsiveness of a website and quantifies the non-interactivity of a page before it is usable.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Another user-centric metric, CLS measures the visual stability of the page by quantifying how often users experience unexpected layout shifts.

2. Measure the Quality of User Experience

This step involves measuring the performance impact for real users on your site, so it is important to prioritize the metrics that matter most.

Google has put together a useful matrix that can help you to think about the user’s expectations and the metrics associated with them.

Measure the Quality of User Experience

Using this matrix to analyze the most impactful performance metrics, from those listed above, is helpful when it comes to prioritizing optimization work.

3. Gain an Overview of Your Page Speed

The next step is to review your site’s performance. When working with large sites, it’s always best to pick a selection of key pages to perform this analysis on.

This could be pages that drive a significant amount of revenue or receive a lot of traffic.

Also, if your site has templates for key pages, you can analyze a number of these in order to understand a base level of performance across the site.

Performing Page Speed Tests

There are several tools which allow you to perform page speed tests, a number of these are free and are great starting points for gaining key insights into a website’s performance.

Google’s Pagespeed Insights

This free tool from Google utilizes a combination of lab data from Lighthouse and field data from the Chrome User Experience report in order to analyze the content of a webpage and provide recommendations for improvement.

Google’s Pagespeed Insights

It allows you to test both the mobile and desktop experience and displays a score out of 100, based on the metrics we spoke about above.

GTMetrix

GTMetrix is another free tool that provides a speed metric breakdown along with optimization opportunities.

Another useful feature is the ability to customize tests based on location, device and browser types, so this can be used to mimic different browsing environments.

GTMetrix

Use a Web Crawler

While the tools above are useful for analyzing on a page-per-page basis, if you wanted to perform measurement at scale, as well as see visual trends, utilizing a crawling tool is very beneficial.

Use a Web Crawler

For example, by using DeepCrawl’s custom JavaScript feature you will be able to extract a number of key metrics from Chrome. (Disclosure: I work at DeepCrawl.)

Not only does this enable you to gather useful insights at scale, you will also be able to see a visual trend of site speed over time.

4. Discover Specific Aspects Affecting Page Load

There are a number of factors that may be affecting your page speed. Some of the main culprits include:

  • JavaScript-heavy resources.
  • Large image file size.
  • Having a large number of redirect chains.

Using Chrome Dev Tools will enable you to discover any specific aspects on a page which are affecting load time.

The most useful report for this sits under the Coverage tab and allows you to run a recording to test the load of a specific page.

Discover Specific Aspects Affecting Page Load

Not only does this allow you to review which resources have an impact on user experience, but you will also be able to understand the time taken for the loading, rendering, and painting of different aspects of the page.

This will allow you to pinpoint specific problem areas that are affecting the load speed.

5. Set Specific KPIs to Track

It’s important to remember that every website is unique, with specific challenges and individual success metrics.

These will differ depending on the main goal of the website, and the KPIs will be dependent on these goals.

For example, an ecommerce client I once worked with was looking to increase sales from organic traffic, so set a KPI to “increase sales from organic users by 10% in the next 6 months.”

Other KPIs may be based on increasing organic sessions, generating or converting more leads as well as decreasing a page’s bounce rate.

Page speed will directly impact these KPIs, as a fast site will be rewarded by Google and provide a better user experience.

6. Implement the Recommended Changes

This step involves implementing the recommended changes provided by the tests you have performed in the previous steps.

Common optimization recommendations include:
  • Implement caching to reduce the size of the initial request.
  • Serve images in next-generation formats.
  • Compress and minify HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • Eliminate render-blocking resources.

This is where you will need to work with your development team, both to gain an understanding of what is possible on the site and to get the changes implemented.

There are a number of terms you can ask your developers about, which can help you to better understand how the website works, Rachel Costello provided a useful list of these terms in her recent talk on the future of technical SEO.

7. Mitigate the Performance Impact of Third-Party Tags

It’s also important to review the third-party tags on your site and the impact they are having on your website’s performance. You may be surprised by the results you see here.

There are a number of tools that can provide visual summaries of the number of requests, load time and run-time costs of different third-party tags.

For example, Request Map displays a map of the tags on a page and allows you to choose the test location to run the analysis from.

Mitigate the Performance Impact of Third-Party Tags

As well as Third-Party Web, which allows you to identify the tags causing the biggest performance impact.

Once you have an understanding of the impact of these, you can review the unnecessary tags and work to remove them.

8. Track the Metrics Over Time

In order to ensure the changes you have implemented are providing the positive impact you are working towards, it’s important to track them over time, both to view the improvements and to identify any regressions.

There are many ways to review how performance has evolved, including:
  • Using custom-made dashboards that incorporate data from Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.
  • The Chrome User Experience Report.

9. Compare & Monitor Performance Against Others in Your Industry

Undertaking competitor analysis is important in most SEO tasks, including performance optimization, in order to gain an understanding of how similar websites in your industry are performing and how you compare to them.

Using Web Page Test’s Visual Comparison you can input both your website and your competitors’ sites to compare the loading experience and see where you match up.

10. Measure the Correlation Between Performance & Revenue

The final step in this list is one of the most valuable things you can do: connect the real user metrics you have collected above to your actual business goals.

This will enable you to collect ROI data and prove the business value of the improvements you have been undertaking.

One way of performing this is by selecting important representative pages to monitor in order to understand how the page speed data over time affects the business KPIs set for these pages.

For example, you could measure this set of pages for site speed changes and correlate the results with user or conversion date from Google Analytics.

Automating Performance Testing & Monitoring

Performing site speed analysis can be a time-consuming task, especially if you have a large URL set to review.

Therefore, in order to efficiently track improvements over time, adopting an automated approach to testing can be very beneficial.

There are several ways you can automate page speed testing, including:

Using a Crawler

As mentioned above, you can use a website crawling tool to run regular crawls and monitor site speed over time.

It is typically possible to automate these reports by setting crawls to run weekly, fortnightly or monthly and receive notifications when they are ready to review.

Google Search Console

Google also introduced the speed report to Google Search Console last year, which enables you to see an aggregated view of your site’s key speed field metrics using data from the Chrome User Experience Report.

There is also the ability to drill down into specific issues and find examples of groups of pages that need improvement.

Google Search Console

Most importantly, you will be able to monitor the speed over time and review if there are any improvements based on the work you have been implementing, as well as spot any regressions.

Running Lightspeed Tests in the Command Line

It is also possible to run Lighthouse reports via your command line. The benefit of this is that you can have it running in the background and can generate results in a number of formats.

In order to do this, you need to have Google Chrome and node.js (a JavaScript runtime environment) installed on your computer. From here we will use the NPM package to install Lighthouse on the command line;

sudo npm install -g lighthouse

Once this has been installed, you will be able to run lighthouse tests straight from your command line, using the command;

lighthouse {your url}

This will open a browser window and perform the usual lighthouse tests automatically for you. You will also be able to define the output format and even run the command headless, so as to not interrupt your workflow.

For example, I would run the analysis as follows;

lighthouse https://www.asos.com/women/ --quiet --chrome-flags=”headless” --view

This will run the test using headless Chrome and open the output in an HTML file once it has finished, as well as save it to my computer.

You can find more advanced options in the Github repository here, along with the full instructions for installing and running it.

Lightspeed Tests in the Command Line

This is also a great way to get started with utilizing the command line to run analysis and was a great help for me to get more comfortable with using it.

To Sum Up

The need for a fast, performant website isn’t going away.

There is a big opportunity for us, as SEO professionals, to work together with our development teams to provide the best experience possible for both site visitors and search engine crawlers.

By performing the 10-step process outlined above, we will be able to provide a lot of value to the conversations around site optimization, but it is also important to understand what is possible for specific websites.

For example, due to their setup, some websites have certain limitations that will not allow them to be optimized for speed in some of the ways recommended by page speed tests.

Along with this, working with developers to review if you can implement user-centric strategies, such as graceful degradation and progressive enhancement, will help with further optimization activities.

In addition, performing speed analysis no longer needs to be a manual task.

There are several tools available to automate these tests, in order to provide efficiency and allow you to focus your time on ensuring your site is as user-friendly as possible.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Powerful Tips to Leverage SEO & PPC for Mutual Benefit

Powerful Tips to Leverage SEO & PPC for Mutual Benefit

By | seo advice for business

Paid and organic search both rely on search engine results pages to attract clicks and traffic to our websites.

Often we target the same audiences with both channels and within them find ways to align them.

In some organizations, PPC and SEO are done by the same person or people.

In others, though, there are teams that are siloed and separate from each other.

Regardless of how our paid and organic search teams or efforts are structured, we can benefit from sharing specific data, tactics, and approaches across the channels and disciplines.

By sharing, we can save efforts, costs, and be smarter in how we optimize and manage campaigns.

Here are seven specific ways that paid and organic search and work together for mutual benefit.

1. Keyword Research

This is probably the most obvious or first way to collaborate that we would all think of.

Both paid and organic search:

  • Rely on keywords.
  • Need initial and ongoing research and insights to determine the keywords and topics that match up well with what our target audiences are searching to find our content.

While we may use different tools to get our keyword research data, there’s no reason to keep sets of data for SEO and PPC separate.

Multiple tools and multiple mindsets in the research process can yield the uncovering of more ideas and terms that might not be thought of or discovered by different tools.

By sharing data, and potentially going further in sharing research tasks along the way, we can share insights like:

  • Long-tail terms.
  • Topical groupings for terms.
  • Ideas that we may not have thought about in a single channel or siloed mindset.

2. PPC Ad Copy & SEO Titles & Meta Descriptions

Paid search text ads are formatted very similarly to organic search results in SERPs.

This means that we can look at the best performing ad copy for PPC ads in terms of click-through rate and quality score and relate it to SEO titles and meta descriptions.

The reverse is also true as we can use the SEO titles and meta descriptions with the highest click-through rates to guide keyword use and text for PPC ad copy.

By studying what works for each channel, we can cut down on some of our testings and use what has proven to work on the other channel in the past.

3. Search Term Performance

The best guidance and shortcut to optimal performance is by having historical data to act on and to help identify areas to leverage and those to avoid.

When SEOs can get search term reports from Google Ads and when PPCs can get Search Console performance data, a lot of experimenting and mistakes can be avoided.

While keyword research tools can provide great guidance, getting actual search performance is even better.

We have to consider seasonality, changes in SERPs, and differences in competitors for paid versus organic search, but again, it is a great starting point if you can share or gain this info.

4. Competitor Data

Competitors are a big factor in rankings, ad positions, and costs of investing in both paid and organic search.

Understanding who is paying the most for ad positions and dominating the SERPs can help SEO.

Likewise, it goes the other way as well. Competitors aren’t always the same for organic and paid search.

Plus, they change over time based on SEO tactics and algorithm changes.

Sharing historical and current competitor data can help understand the opportunity for rankings and bids.

Both SEO and PPC can utilize insights into who the top competitors are, how much focus they’re putting into search, and how individual keywords differ in terms of focus.

Knowing where competitors are spending money and jockeying for position can help set expectations on how hard it will be to rank and how much it will cost to advertise.

Plus, it can show areas that are underserved and where the true low-hanging fruit is.

5. Areas of Opportunity for Remarketing

There are a lot of insights to be gained from looking at engagement, traffic, and exit data.

The basic metrics of how users navigate websites can be important to share between search channels. Much like the insights gained from paid search, they can be aligned as well from SEO traffic data.

For top of the funnel content and terms that drive traffic from organic search – paid search can be used to further support moving customers along their journey or down the funnel. This includes the use of remarketing for visits to key pages.

Examples include the use of remarketing after landing traffic to the site from organic search on long-tail terms and thought leadership content.

SEO might open the door to the traffic, but paid search can continue engaging the visitor so both can work to support each other.

6. SERP Layouts

Search engine results pages can vary greatly by keyword and even from day-to-day.

Algorithm updates and aspects of intent and localization can have a big impact on the presence of:

  • Text ads.
  • Shopping ads.
  • News.
  • Images.
  • Answer boxes.
  • Map packs.
  • Organic results.
  • And more.
It is critical to:
  • Track the ever-changing nature of the SERPs.
  • Monitor for SERPs that have a lot of ads versus those that have few.
  • Be mindful of how this can impact both paid search and organic search performance

Ads are likely warranted on a page that has a lot of noise between the ads and the organic results.

Especially, if you’re a brand and only review/rating sites are ranked on page one after map packs. If you have no shot at Page 1 then an ad is probably warranted.

On the flip side, if you own the SERP and the only ad is yours, there is no other noise, and organic search results come right after the ads, you might be paying for ad traffic that you don’t need to.

7. ROAS & ROI Data

One of the hardest questions prior to launching a campaign can be projecting or predicting return on investment.

Whether it is determined by the ROAS ratio or actual all-in ROI for PPC or SEO, it is incredibly valuable to have an idea of what performance would be like in advance.

If you can utilize data from PPC or SEO to predict performance, then it can help:

  • Set expectations for the campaign.
  • Save money that would normally be spent for the first few months to see how keyword and planner tool data will actually play out.

Conclusion

Bottom line: sharing of data and insights is key.

If you’re a solo practitioner who handles both SEO and PPC, then these things might be ingrained in your approach.

However, for all structures and ways of handling paid and organic, there’s likely something that can be gained that can help with smarter and more informed decisions.

Work and dollars saved are important as well as being able to scale and do smarter things.

There are many more details beyond these that can help both channels.

Work on aligning strategies and disciplines to leverage what you’re investing for maximum return.

  • [Video Recap]

 

 

 

Coronavirus Is Impacting Ecommerce

Coronavirus Is Impacting Ecommerce

By | E Commerce Business News

You’ve probably already heard that eCommerce will grow significantly due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. You’ll probably also agree that this is a rather general statement and one that needs some clarification.

I’ve read countless articles about things that have happened within the eCommerce domain in China, Italy, and the U.S. over recent weeks and want to share all the most relevant case studies in one place. I’ll also add a little context that will help eCommerce managers better prepare for or react to the current global situation.

It’s happened before

Before we begin talking about Coronavirus in more detail, it’s worth acknowledging that eCommerce has been here before. Alibaba and JD.com, both grew significantly through the SARS crisis in 2002 and 2003.

Changing behaviors

In order to avoid going to stores where there is a higher risk of infection and a potential lack of inventory on the shelves, clients are moving to online retail with longer delivery windows.

eGrocery

eGrocery has seen a rapid expansion during the outbreak. In China, on-demand local services company Meituan Dianping reported that sales of raw food products such as vegetables, meat, and seafood have tripled. Ele.me, a part of Alibaba Group, also saw grocery orders nearly double and JD Daojia stated that sales have nearly quadrupled.

We are already seeing the first signs of the same trend in the U.S. Pradeep Elankumaran, CEO of online grocer Farmstead, told Retail Dive that delivery volume had risen by more than 30% above normal levels in just the last week.

Food

Master Kong—an instant noodle and beverage producer—has moved its focus away from traditional offline retail channels to omnichannel, e-commerce, and smaller stores. By tracking retail re-opening plans, it was also able to adapt its supply chain. As a result, the supply chain had recovered by more than 50% just a few weeks after the outbreak and Master Kong was able to supply 60% of the stores that reopened during this period—three times as many as some competitors.

Other companies in the food industry are diversifying activities or redirecting budgets in response to the crisis. The Chinese branch of a global confectionary manufacturer used the crisis as a catalyst for accelerating its existing digital transformation. They canceled offline marketing activities for Valentine’s Day and reinvested all resources into digital marketing.

Some restaurants offer semi-finished dishes for their customers who would like to stay home and cook themselves.

Delivery

Food delivery networks have grown in China during the crisis. There are millions of restaurants open for business but they are not able to let customers through the doors—meaning that delivery is the only option for generating revenue.

Delivery is not always a straightforward process during the crisis. The current nationwide shutdown in Italy has forced brands to react and find viable solutions. Carriers are not able to deliver shipments to households within quarantined cities, so companies are implementing systems that check if a particular delivery is possible or not. They’ve also increased staff at their support centers to help clients get quick information at a difficult time.

Flexible labor

In China, hotels, restaurants and cinemas chains—which are experiencing a massive drop in footfall or forced closure—have shared their employees with Hema (a digital-first grocery supermarket owned by Alibaba) which was in urgent need of labor for delivery services. Other omnichannel players including Ele, Meituan, and JD’s 7Fresh have followed this example by borrowing labor from restaurants.

Cosmetics

Chinese cosmetics company Lin Qingxuan was forced to close 40% of its stores during the outbreak. By moving all beauty advisors from those stores to become online influencers, they achieved 200% growth compared to the previous year.

Fashion and apparel

Cosmo Lady, which is the largest underwear and lingerie company in China, has shifted its focus to selling on WeChat. They’ve engaged all employees by creating a sales ranking for every single employee, even including the CEO!

You can find some interesting ideas for fashion retailers in this article: The 5 strategies retailers should adopt to combat Coronavirus

Luxury

Les Petits Joueurs, an Italian producer of luxury bags and shoes, is launching a full virtual showroom with Augmented Reality (AR) options to try on every product. In just the last few days, they have observed more on-line as a result of this innovation.

Insurance

Ant Financial (formerly known as Alipay) added free coronavirus-related coverage to its products. This has encouraged consumers to buy insurance online and increased the loyalty of existing clients. The outcome is 30% more health insurance products sold.

Healthcare

JD Health has launched free online consultation services with doctors and also launched an online tool to help patients with chronic diseases maintain their drug supply.

Alibaba started a B2B sourcing platform that matches sellers with hospitals and local government. They also declared they will deliver any goods from the platform to hospitals in need, no matter where.

Strategic direction for the coming years

Many Chinese companies have already moved from crisis response to post-recovery planning. Full-scale digitization is at the forefront of many such plans, including for manufacturers in all industries.

IHL Group President Greg Buzek expects the current crisis to lead to increased investment into omnichannel technologies: “It is our view that the trends to optimize click-and-collect and delivery will double their previous investment as a result of people avoiding crowds for the next 90 days”.

From all these examples, we can predict that the digital side of the retail business will grow at a faster pace than previous projections. Although it is a hard time for the world, it is proof that eCommerce is robust and is able to answer the big questions. This is the positive thing for the long-term goals of the digital transformation of our society.

eCommerce answers the call

In our Divante mission statement, we say: “we believe that better eCommerce technology can help shape and improve the world of the future.” It’s the kind of statement that others read and think it is hyperbole or just a bold marketing claim. But we have always thought it was true.

I also spoke at our Winter Summit about wanting to have a positive influence on the world. While these are trying times for the world, I’m proud to see that eCommerce is currently solving a number of problems in real-time and is potentially saving the lives of people around the globe. It’s proof that the belief we stated in our company mission is not misplaced. eCommerce is robust and is able to answer the big questions, and that should give everyone in the industry a great deal of motivation to find answers to the current problems and then plan for the future.

With the growth of ecommerce, coronavirus shouldn’t disrupt the economy as much as the SARS outbreak did in 2002. However, it will still bring strain to online-based businesses who need to deal with potentially delayed deliveries or out-of-stock items because of increased demand.

 

 

Build a Beautiful, User-Friendly Website on a Budget In California

Build a Beautiful, User-Friendly Website on a Budget In California

By | Website Design Advice
“Why should I hire a web firm instead of building my own website for free?”

This is a perfectly legitimate question and one that we commonly have to answer when in talks with different businesses and organizations.

  • Web firms should* be an expert in the field.
  • Web firms should* be professionals at their trade.
  • Web firms should* provide the necessary systems required for long-term success.
  • Web firms should* leverage the collective resources of their team.

Experts:

Being an expert in the field means having experience and knowledge from past learning. Web firms should have experts in the field of web design & development in addition to branding and digital marketing. Many of these companies have spent years gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to efficiently build a successful website for many different types of businesses and individuals. Some have even focused on one market becoming intimately familiar with the quirks of that industry.

Because of the time & years they have spent studying and working in this field, web firms already know what others would have to learn before being able to build a website, not to mention a successful website. Furthermore, to build a successful website, a person needs a certain level of expertise in design & development and needs to know what the current standards are for how websites look and work (as the internet is an ever-changing environment). The knowledge of current standards is critical for constructing a site that people can intuitively explore. Beyond this anyone building a website should have a basic understanding of the following:

  • Graphic Design principles
  • Branding & Identity Design
  • HTML & CSS for custom styling
  • Information Architecture best practices
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Web Analytics & Data

These “things” all add up to help ensure that what they are constructing with not just simply work, but be great at what it does. One thing that we always stress when talking with people is that there is a difference between what works, and what puts your best foot forward. A web firm should always strive to construct websites that put their clients best foot forward.

What it comes down to is that a website is about more than just information on a page. Anyone can put text on a page but organizing information in a manner that not only helps people find you but encourages customers to do business with you requires an expertise that not everyone has. As experts in the field of web design and development, a web firm should have a solid understanding how to construct a digital presence that inspires confidence.

Professionals:

The next key point is that a web firm should be a professional at their trade, meaning they are continuously gaining new knowledge and experience. This involves keeping up with the current standards of graphic design, development tools, SEO, social media networks, etc… Keeping up on these standards allows web firms to offer fresh insights and new tools to their clients that will help them remain relevant & valuable to their customers. There are bad designs, good designs, and excellent designs. A web firm should be keeping up with what is in the “excellent” category and striving for excellence with every website that they build.

Once again, as an individual you can construct your site for ‘free,” but can you continue to maintain it once your business grows, or speeds up? It’s important to remember that if you want long-term success for your website, and by extension your business, that you need to keep up with the changes in the environment that the website lives in.

Web firms should also keep up with the standards of user-focused content, that maximizes SEO, social share-ability, and inbound traffic. For a website to be successful, it needs to be easily found and shared on the increasingly social internet. There are strategies and methods to set a website up to be easily found and shared, and specific standards for making your website rank as high as possible on major search engines like Google. These standards and systems require continuous learning, as they change regularly. A web firm should always be up on the latest standards of SEO, and work to implements these standards in the websites that they build & maintain to help their clients achieve long-term success.

Ultimately, the standards of how to build, design, and run websites are constantly changing as technology evolves at a rapid pace. As professionals, a web firm stays up on what these standards are and implements them in the websites that they build. Doing this sets up their clients with websites that will remain relevant to their customers.

Systems:

Good web firms should provide the systems necessary to achieve long-term success for a businesses website without worrying their clients with running systems updates. It’s rare that business owners and individuals have time, or expertise to spend running regular systems updates. Nor do they have time to solve problems or bugs that arise.

A proper web firm should remove the burden of the underlying system away from their clients’ hands by taking care of the “under the hood” systems of websites. These systems make a website work well. For example underlying systems: keep website performance up, prevent the site from crashing and keep the system secure. There are many different options for these: cheap options, expensive options, good options, and bad options. This is the type of thing a business owner or individual usually don’t have the time or know how to deal maintain, or even implement. That is where web firms come in. Their clients should not have to think or worry about if they have the best system set up for running their website, but rest assured that their website will run smoothly, or that if anything happens to it that there is support from a real person when needed.

Teams:

Another way that web firms remove the worry from their clients is by providing ongoing support. With all things, there is the possibility of problems arising, no matter how simple they may be. To minimize these problems for their clients, web firms often take both a reactive and a proactive approach.

Proactive Support:

Web firms should provide ongoing support by keeping the underlying system of a website up-to-date. This is especially important when it comes to security. If the underlying system of a website is not kept up-to-date, it can become a security risk, the website could be hacked, or customer’s data could be at risk. Furthermore, the should notify their client of upcoming changes that may impact their businesses website. By leveraging an entire team, that means instead of potentially just 1 set of eyes screening new information and resolving bugs, there is an entire team of people that are proactively tackling new stuff.

Reactive Support:

Without the support of a team at a web firm, a client would need to tackle any issues that develop on their site single-handedly, or through the use of mass support systems. This can eat away at precious time, or simply just not get done, both of which can be problematic for a business. However, with a proper web firm clients are oftentimes given access to a support system where they can ask questions, request new features, or get help with any issues that come up immediately from a team focused on supporting them. This means that clients can get immediate help and do not have to spend their valuable time resolving issues on their site, freeing them to focus on their business.

Measures of Success:

Lastly, web firms can use their collective resources, knowledge, and understanding to not only help set up a website to provide meaningful data but to also help interpret it (which is the most valuable part). It’s important for a business to know how their website is actually performing, and whether or not their business & traffic is growing with quality visitors. Web firms should not only be able to tap into systems to provide this information but also proactively help their clients to understand the value of the data being produced.

My colleague Josh wrote a great article call “optimizing your website for data” that goes into depth regarding measures of success and data produced by a website. If you’re interested in learning more I’d recommend giving that article a read through.

More heads are better than one. People will all see, and understand things differently. If you’re going to take charge of tackling your own project you cannot count on a team of people to catch errors or help you understand the value of your site and your marketing.

Summation:

It is vital for your brand to work with the perfect digital agency who can understand your brand culture, knows your target audience’s expectations, analyze their behaviour and update your designs according to the user experience.
If you seek to survive successfully in the digital marketing industry, you need to make sure that your product and website or application are appealing to your target audience in terms of user experience design.

Top Web Design Companies In California – Networking bizz

Established in 2017, Networking bizz is an award-winning digital marketing agency with the offices in Los Angeles, New York and Washington DC.
They focus on overall usability, ease of use, and the interaction between the user and product. Because they believe that overall experience is the main reason why a user would revisit a website. The result is engagement, social interaction, and sales.
Their experience spans across all industries and speciality areas. El sushi loco, Loaded cafe, K2 auto source, Low Price Led Lights are just a few of their clients.

 

What Is a Competition Analysis & Who Do SEOs Need Them?

What Is a Competition Analysis & Who Do SEOs Need Them?

By | seo advice for business

In SEO, a competitor analysis is one of the most important steps you must take before setting your SEO strategy.

This analysis looks deeper into your competition’s links, keywords, content, and on-site SEO to find out what makes it tick.

By performing a competitor analysis, you know where you are, and what you must do to move forward.

If you don’t do a competition analysis as part of your initial SEO discovery process, your SEO strategy will likely not yield the returns you are expecting.

You are flying blind and trying to hit a blank target with an arrow.

Your competition analysis will tell you the following things:
  • The techniques that really work in your industry.
  • Which keywords your competition is going after.
  • What your competition is doing for links.
  • What your competition is doing for content.
  • What they are doing for on-page SEO.
  • The weaknesses in your competition’s SEO strategy.
  • How you should implement SEO tasks moving forward.
  • What you must do to beat those competitors.
  • To perform an effective competitor analysis, you should analyze the three areas that matter most to moving the needle: technical SEO, content, and links.

Let’s examine the elements of a successful competition analysis in more detail, and how you can take this and apply it no matter which industry you are in.

You Must Assess What Really Works in the Industry

In order to beat the competition you are up against, you must assess things that are really working in your industry.

What does this really mean?

Your competition, in order to achieve the top spot on Google, is going to implement a robust SEO strategy to take the top spot. They will have links, content, and a crawlable website.

In most cases, however, one or more of these instances may have weaknesses in the implementation.

And this is what you are after: to figure out what your competition’s weaknesses are and how to leverage them so your website reaches its full potential in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Your goal must also be to assess what’s really working in your industry.

For example: as a business owner, you may think you want to beat the store down the street who is selling the same blue widgets you are.

But, you are limiting yourself.

If you place such a limit on a single competitor, you will miss the forest for the trees and wonder why your SEO strategy isn’t as robust as you were thinking it was when you started.

The store down the street has an even narrower mindset than you.

They want to beat their uncle Sal who has a store specializing in red widgets.

While red widgets are a far cry from blue widgets, they are still somewhat related.

See the flaw in this strategy?

Taking a myopic approach such as this will only lead to you beating a competitor you want to beat, who has an even narrower strategy that you do.

Instead, you must focus on the broader market, find the keywords that are driving traffic to your competitors’ websites, and analyze what they are doing to achieve the top position in the SERPs.

Changing your focus to the broader approach will only serve to create an even better net for you to catch that traffic that will change your overall SEO outlook.

And only changing to the broader approach will really give you insight into what really works for your industry, while using these techniques to adapt properly to more than what you initially envisioned, even if that changes due to your competitor analysis.

This is also why creating an in-depth competitor analysis is a critical component of any SEO strategy. This depth is what will help you decide every SEO point moving forward.

A Competitor Analysis Is Not Guessing

Let’s make one thing clear: performing an analysis of your competitors is not playing a guessing game.

Instead, this analysis is based on tried and true factors in SEO.

These factors are what will make or break your success when you analyze them properly.

With a proper competitor analysis, these factors can be tweaked and refined even further to achieve the rankings you are after.

But, if your competitor analysis leaves out critical factors, you may be prone to making an educated “guess.”

This is something you want to avoid entirely.

Guessing is fine, if you’re not aiming to make your client any money with your analysis. But, beware of making guesses based on past experience when you do these analyses.

As you look into competitor analyses, you may run into several terms.

These include keyword gap and content gap analyses.

What Is a Content Gap Analysis?

When SEO was young, back in the early 2000s, you could get away with almost a minimum competitor analysis.

Just plug in a few keywords, see if the market wasn’t overly saturated, do a surface-level examination of content, and boom, you could adjust your SEO strategy as needed.

However, things have changed and they are more complex than they used to be.

Enter the content gap and keyword gap analyses.

When you do a content gap analysis, you are trying to find out whether your content has the following attributes:

  • It’s outdated.
  • It doesn’t cover the topic in-depth.
  • There are too many similar pages on the topic and they need more uniqueness and differentiation.
  • Your content is hard to read for most readers.

By doing an in-depth look into what’s out there vs. what you have on your site, you will be prepared to write better content than what any of your competitors have.

This will also position your content as an authority on the topic, and you will be able to achieve better social shares as a result.

What Is a Keyword Gap Analysis?

A keyword gap analysis will help you discover keywords that are capable of driving traffic to your site, by using your competitor’s data.

You can use this gap analysis to mine keyword opportunities that are valuable, and you may be missing out on.

In addition, you can find new customers by figuring out the questions they also ask when researching their topics of interest.

Discovering these gaps in your keyword strategy will help you figure out ways to beat your competition and supersede them in the SERPs.

What Your Competition Is Doing for Links

In this part of the analysis, it’s critical to find out what your competition is doing for links.

Using Majestic or Ahrefs, you can plug in your competitor’s websites and see exactly what their link profile looks like according to those databases.

But, be warned, they are a smaller slice of the web and are not likely to create a full picture when you use them individually.

There are a few things you will want to learn about your competition’s link profiles including:

  • How many links they have.
  • Some sort of overall backlink history.
  • Any great links like .gov, .edus, .orgs, etc.
  • Any outstanding content that’s generating those links.

By looking at the above information in detail, it may be possible to nail down exactly what they are doing to gain the top positions in the SERPs.

Implementation of SEO Tasks

No in-depth external competitor analysis will be able to tell you exactly what was completed and when in a competitor’s overall SEO strategy.

While you can get a general idea, it is usually impossible to get an x-ray lens into what they are doing.

If we could do that, I would be on a $1 million yacht every month out of the year.

But, what it can do is tell you how things were done on the site, from their implementation and on-site SEO, to the results that were obtained afterward.

This is another dimension of the competitor analysis that is critical to know: what components of your competition’s SEO strategy have been implemented?

By knowing the first details, you can make educated guesses at the implementation order.

For example, you must have a page up to perform link building. Another example: you must perform keyword research before the implementation of on-page SEO to target those keywords.

If you know, in general, what sequence of optimization tasks go where, you can piece together that part with educational guesses as you implement the specifics from your competitor analysis.

The name of the game is to beat your competitors on the first page of the SERPs, not necessarily to beat the algorithm itself.

Performing a Competition Analysis Is Vital

As you can see, a competition analysis taking into account the three essentials to great SEO can mean the difference between success and failure.

By looking at content, links, and technical SEO in detail, you will be able to tweak and adjust your own site’s SEO items accordingly.

This research creates a large chasm of knowledge that you can use at any phase of your project, from the initial discovery phase to final execution and reporting.

Plus, it gives you a chance to make comparisons between your competition and you.

It will also help you devise a way to exceed your competition in the space.

As you get better at competition analysis, you will be well-equipped to assess any site in any industry.

This ability will help you succeed where your competitors fail – by leveraging the weaknesses of their SEO strategy and turning those into your strengths.

This is where the analysis and leveraging of those weaknesses can be transformed into a powerful asset for your SEO strategy.

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The Impact Of Coronavirus On Digital Marketing

The Impact Of Coronavirus On Digital Marketing

By | Networking Bizz News

The Coronavirus continues to dominate headlines in Asia since January 2020. I decided to analyze the effects of the virus on digital marketing — particularly on neighboring markets such as Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan — with a focus on paid search, looking at topics such as audience search query and advertising trends as well as recommended actions to take.

1. Audience Search Query Trends

Across four markets, big spikes in search interest are seen for the keyword “coronavirus” in the searcher’s respective language. Google Trends shows the searches reach as high as 100 across all markets — an increase that began in the third week of January 2020 and peaked in the last week of the same month.

2. Advertising Trends

The increase in interest around the keyword “coronavirus” created an opportunity for businesses in the medical vertical offering related services, so let’s look at the search engine results pages for the keyword query across search engines in Asia.

In Japan, advertisers are present on Google Ads but not on Yahoo Japan Sponsored Search. One possible reason is the advertising guidelines of the search engines. Advertisers could run ads in Yahoo Japan, they were not present when I searched. This may be due to budget limits.

It’s also important to know that the audience is interested in simply understanding more about the coronavirus.

Some who search on the keyword may not be potential customers. In this case, we need to optimize keyword match types and negatives accordingly to gain the highest return on advertising spend.

Businesses in the related vertical that do not consider Coronavirus to be a a significant opportunity need to carefully monitor daily spend because broad-match keywords may trigger incremental traffic potentially from the search query term.

For example, for South Korea, an advertiser was found on Naver — the most commonly used search engine in the region — when I conducted a search, but the site does not seem to be related specifically to Coronavirus.

At this stage, advertisers were not found on Google in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which has the largest market share in these two markets. As is the case with Yahoo Japan, mentioned above, this could be the result of budget limitations.

Advertisers do not appear to be making the most of the opportunity. This could be due to the lack of medical solutions provided for this virus.

3. Recommended Actions

Businesses that are interested in taking full advantage of this opportunity should:

  •  Regularly review search query reports, make a list of search queries that are only consuming cost but not leading to the fulfillment of the objective, and make a judgment on whether to pause the keywords, add negatives etc..
  • Optimize bids to ensure the performing keywords have sufficient impression share for solid presence in order to continue to drive results.
Businesses that are not interested in making the most of this opportunity should:
  • Review search query reports regularly to ensure that unwanted traffic is not being driven to the site. If this is taking place, add related keywords as negatives.
  • Pay careful attention if campaigns cover a variety of topics because your target is the general mass audience.
Since medical solutions to this virus can further shift and impact the search demands, businesses should:
  • Monitor the news regarding the virus on a regular basis to understand the potential demands.

Recently, search interest for the keyword “mask” has drastically risen in Japan and South Korea as a result from information that masks are an important factor in protecting people from the virus. The increase in search interest is not as high in Taiwan and Hong Kong for the same keyword, which could be because masks were already used as part of their daily necessities.

Online marketing to benefit

The major advantage of digital marketing, besides the fact that it does not require face-to-face interaction, is that it is measurable. Marketers can quite easily obtain a good picture of their spending return on investment (ROI), and of which activities generate the highest number of quality leads and at what expense.

Assuming that many marketers will have some extra free time, especially those who will have to go into home isolation, they are advised to use it to review their online marketing strategy and redefine their marketing messages.

Review your marketing strategy

Marketing executives often complain that they have no time to update their websites because of their work overload. Well, this is exactly the time to revisit the corporate site and make sure that your company is well presented.

This is also the time to reset goals for your marketing campaigns and take an in-depth look into the performance of past efforts. A close look will for sure indicate that there is real need to refresh much of the marketing materials produced in the past.

This is a great opportunity to fine-tune the following features of your company’s visibility and promotion strategy:

  • Website content – Ensuring that it contains the right marketing messages with the right call for action.
  • SEO – Checking your current website organic search rankings and optimizing them for search engines to improve the quality and quantity of your web traffic
  • Content marketing – Using this opportunity to generate ideas for new blog posts and to start writing the next newsletter for your customers
  • Press releases and articles – Thinking of topics you can inform the media and your clients about and writing professional articles
  • Marketing materials – Preparing presentations, brochures and other marketing materials
    Social media engagement – Strategizing how you can improve social media engagement and writing new case studies, white papers and professional articles. Increasing the number of webinars you hold
  • Video – Drafting the storyline for your next video
    Strengthening your focus on web marketing will enable you to maintain normality in these crazy days and will give you a competitive edge over competitors who are slow to react.

Hopefully, the whole crisis will end soon, but no matter how long it takes strengthening you online marketing efforts will minimize the risk and improve your overall position.

Google My Business Optimization

Google My Business Optimization Considered the Most Valuable Local Marketing Service

By | Networking Bizz News

Google My Business optimization, not website optimization, is considered the most valuable local marketing service in 2020.

According to BrightLocal’s annual local search industry survey, on-site optimization is now the second most valuable local marketing service.

The survey of 475 local marketers looks at the business practices, pricing, salary, and services offered by local marketers.

According to the survey, the top 5 most valuable services are:
  • Google My Business optimization
  • On-site optimization
  • Reputation management
  • Citation management
  • Website design

Google My Business optimization is also the most frequently offered service by local marketers, with more marketers offering GMB optimization than traditional SEO.

The top 5 most frequently offered services by local marketers include:
  • GMB optimization
  • SEO audits/analysis
  • On-site optimization
  • Reporting/analytics
  • Citation management

Link building is one of the less frequently offered services, the survey finds, with only half of local marketers offering it. So there’s an opportunity to stand out as a local marketer if you want to differentiate your service offerings from others.

SEO is Best for Attracting New Clients

Although it’s not the most offered service, or considered the most valuable, local marketers say SEO is the best online tactic for attracting new clients. Content marketing, LinkedIn, and PPC were cited as other valuable online channels.

By a large margin, word of mouth is considered the most valuable channel overall for winning clients. Local business groups and industry conferences are also considered valuable ways to gain clients.

Google Rankings Matter Most to Businesses

The local marketing metrics most valued by local businesses are Google rankings. According to the survey, Google rankings are even more important to businesses than new customers and new leads.

The top 5 local marketing metrics valued by businesses are:
  • Google rankings
  • New customers
  • New leads/inquiries
  • Organic traffic
  • Number of new reviews

When preparing monthly reports for clients, focus on the highlighting the above metics.

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Essential Optimizations to Modernize Your Website

By | Website Design Advice

Whether it’s design preferences or optimization best practices, the web moves fast.

A state-of-the-art website launched in 2014 according to the highest standards of the era might be completely outdated now, whether due to overuse of a trendy effect like parallax, or prioritizing the desktop experience at the expense of mobile usability.

As your site begins to age, you may be wondering whether it is worth it to invest in tweaks and updates to your existing site, or blow it up and start from scratch according to 2020 standards.

While a well-planned, well-executed new website can be a beautiful thing, there are some small optimizations you can make to modernize your existing website and extend its shelf life from both a user and an SEO perspective.

Here are nine simple yet impactful changes you can make to help your website keep up with the times.

1. Enable HTTPS

HTTPS was introduced as a secure web protocol in 1995, but it took until 2015 for half of all websites to serve encrypted page loads.

If your site did not handle credit card transactions or involve the transfer of sensitive, confidential data, there was not much of a push for encryption.

As data security became more of a priority – or codified law, in the case of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – more and more webmasters enabled HTTPS to protect the transfer of elements from user to server (like passwords and personal data) and from server to user (like what content is displayed).

If your website was designed in 2015 or earlier, it’s possible you haven’t yet installed an SSL certificate to serve pages over HTTPS.

Google started to prioritize sites with HTTPS in search results starting in 2017, and made this even more imperative in 2018.

With prominent markers in Chrome indicating if a site is insecure, many users are now wary of interacting with HTTP versions of sites, nevermind entering sensitive data or credit card information.

There are many options for purchasing an SSL certificate and enabling HTTPS. Let’s Encrypt offers free SSL/TSL certificates, while content delivery networks (CDNs) like CloudFlare include access to a shared certificate on the free plan.

2. Switch to Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager was first introduced in 2012 to help simplify the management of analytics and web tracking codes.

If you didn’t adopt it at the time, it’s possible your website still has hard-coded tags for everything from Google Analytics events to Google Ads conversions and the Facebook Pixel.

Previously, you might have relied on a developer to construct and install event tags, or used a WordPress plugin to insert tracking codes on a page, which may now present a security vulnerability especially if it’s a deprecated plugin.

Switching to Google Tag Manager will help you organize and manage almost any kind of tracking code out there.

In addition to built-in tags for Google properties to one-click integration with platforms like the Facebook Pixel, Google’s custom tags, triggers, and variables present an endless possibility of customization.

Google Tag Manager’s preview mode lets you test to ensure all tags are firing as they should, or better zero in and correct any issues.

Finally, GTM’s “publish” functionality makes it easy to track version changes and revert to a previous configuration if needed.

google-tag-manager-5e56800526899

3. Ditch Google Plus in Social Icons

If your site was designed in the last decade, there’s a very good chance you have a row of social icons in the header or footer.

Take a look – do you still have Google+ listed in the row?

Launched in 2011, Google+ was expected to be a rival platform to Facebook, but due to low user engagement the network was discontinued in 2019.

This is an easy win – it’s time to remove Google+ from the social icons on your site.

google-plus-

4. Configure ReCAPTCHA & Anti-Spam Measures

Contact form spam from automated bots is an annoyance at best.

Given that approximately 35% of all websites are powered by WordPress, it’s no wonder why automated bots are programmed to target insecure forms on these sites so aggressively.

There is a long list of anti-spam measures you can take, everything from using Akismet protection on input fields to filtering out frequent spam keywords via the comment blacklist.

Google’s RECAPTCHA security system has also advanced considerably since its launch in 2007.

The latest version, reCAPTCHA v3, runs invisibly in the background to alert you of suspicious traffic without presenting friction to your human users – friction like identifying crosswalks in a grainy picture in order to submit a form.

recaptcha

5. Update Google Maps API Key

In 2018, Google revamped its Google Maps Platform to charge a pay-per-use model for API calls.

Google’s new pricing model charges anywhere from $5-$30 per 1,000 requests, but Google also included a $200 monthly credit.

For most local businesses, this meant they could continue to use the Maps API for free.

What’s the issue?

Well, many sites without active webmasters missed the memo, and thus have a non-functional map embedded on their site.

To fix this, simply register an account with the Google Maps Platform to get your API key and enter it in the backend of your website.

google-maps-api-error-5e5680d2779fd

6. Reduce Friction

Have you seen a drop in conversion rate?

Is your bounce rate higher than you expect?

These site metrics could indicate that there is friction causing users to leave your site without converting.

This could be because there are errors on your site such as broken links or buttons that no longer work, but it could also be that the design is outdated and no longer matches the desired user journey.

Examples of friction include labor-intensive reCAPATCHA (see point #4) or pages that are not optimized for mobile devices (see point #7).

Friction is more than just errors and misconfigurations.

For example:

  • Could removing a few extraneous fields from your contact form increase submission rates?
  • Could combining steps on a checkout process increase sales?

In addition to Google Analytics, you can use a heat-mapping software such as HotJar or Crazy Egg to observe how users move through your site and identify drop-off points.

Also consider user testing (for baby steps, just have friends and family navigate the site and try to complete important actions).

Finally, audit tools such as SEMrush can identify technical issues like broken links, redirect loops, and other barriers to usability that you can correct.

heatmap

7. Improve Mobile Usability

Mobile traffic now accounts for more than 52% of all web traffic – up from approximately 31% at the beginning of 2015.

This market share will only continue to rise.

Add in Google’s complete switch to mobile-first indexing in July 2019, it’s never been more important to have a site that is easy and pleasant to access and navigate on a mobile device.

What does an optimized mobile experience look like?

Text and images should be responsive, resizing to fit the screen size (no more side-scroll and pinching).

Buttons and menu items should be large and easy to press.

Finally, conversion actions like filling forms and going through a checkout should be easy and require as little data input from the user as possible.

You can use a tool such as Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to discover whether your site is easy to navigate on mobile and get recommendations on how to make it more usable.

google-mobile-friendly-test-5e567ff6c27e1

8. Implement Speed Optimizations

On both desktop and mobile your site should load quickly, since most users will leave if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load a page.

You can use tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTMetrix to audit your site and get recommendations on speed optimizations.

Example optimizations include:

  • Moving to a faster server.
  • Serving cached content over a content delivery network (CDN) like Cloudflare.
  • Compressing images.
  • Serving scaled images (that is to say, there is no use loading in a 2,000px x 2,000 px logo if it will only occupy 200px on the page).

Use this opportunity to audit your source code – are there any deprecated scripts you can remove?

Either manually or use a plugin such as Autoptimize to minify HTML/CSS, but also beware of installing too many plugins as this can greatly affect speed and security as well.

google-page-speed-insights-5e567ff47c834

9. Conduct Content Pruning

If you have not been actively managing your site over the past few years, there is a good chance that you have outdated and irrelevant content.

Not only does this cause bloat and confusion for search engine crawlers, it can also be frustrating for users when they find an outdated PDF schedule via Google search or try to take advantage of your expired 2015 spring promotion code.

Use tools such as:

  • Screaming Frog to conduct a full page audit.
  • Google Search Console which will give insight into impressions and clicks for each page.
  • Google Analytics.

Then, either update/improve the content, combine pages, or remove altogether – just be sure to set up 301 redirects so any traffic that would have landed on those pages is directed to a relevant live page.

Conclusion

While a new website designed according to current standards would be just what the doctor ordered, it can also be an expensive and long endeavor.

These nine (relatively) straightforward optimizations will help modernize your website and deliver a much better experience to both users and search crawlers without breaking the bank.

  • [Video Recap]

 

How Digital Marketing Can Help Non-Profit Organizations Meet Their Goals.

By | Networking Bizz News

Whenever you read the news, you will come across reports about the economy – how the stock market is performing and data on jobs, unemployment, and currency exchange. You will read terms such as “Gross Domestic Product”, “recession”, and “trade balance”.

For the past few months, the news has given massive coverage on the trade war launched by the United States against China and how it has impacted the bottom line of many U.S. companies in the manufacturing and agricultural sector.

Certainly, these types of news are disconcerting because when companies are in trouble, jobs and consequently, the livelihood and well-being of many families are on the line.

Thus, in a world that has become increasingly concerned about profit, the idea of a non-profit organization must leave some people scratching their heads.

What Is A Non-Profit Organization?

By definition, a non-profit organization is an entity that does not funnel its earnings to stockholders or investors. The majority of non-profit organizations are not connected with the government and are private entities.

However, instead of paying out dividends to its stockholders, a non-profit organization appropriates its income to help the group achieve its goals which are usually philanthropic in nature.

A non-profit organization can support a variety of causes. Some of the most popular ones include endangered species, preserving the arts, social reform programs, protecting the environment, education, and literacy.

What Are The Challenges Facing Non-Profit Organizations?

Spearheading a non-profit organization can be a daunting task. With information flowing freely – thanks to the Internet and the advances in digital technology – decisions are more easily influenced by data that is available on the web.

Similar to profit organizations, non-profit organizations face several challenges that may obstruct their efforts to achieve their goals and objectives.

We have identified 3 challenges that non-profit organizations have to contend with in the coming years:

  • Government Regulations – Changes in government regulations and tax reform laws may affect the decisions of individuals to contribute as well as hinder the ability of non-profit organizations to invoice for their services and generate more funding.
  • Hiring Volunteers and Recruiting Staff – An increase in the number of jobs available in the market in combination with an upward adjustment in the wage rate has made it more difficult for non-profit organizations to hire and recruit volunteers needed to attend to its various duties and responsibilities.
  • Lack of Technological Support – With the decline in available funding, non-profit organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to avail of and utilize technology needed to further its growth and open new avenues for financial support.

Networkingbizz Web Design is not an interest group and neither are we in the recruitment business.

However, we are in the technology business. We understand how digital innovations and the Internet can be utilized to help non-profit organizations meet their goals.

How Can Non-Profit Organizations Benefit From Digital Marketing?

If you want to know how digital marketing benefits small businesses, please read our blog, “Reasons Why Small Businesses Need To Invest In A Digital Marketing Strategy”.

The truth is, a non-profit organization also reaps the same benefits from incorporating a digital marketing strategy as a profit organization.

1. Low-Cost Method Of Promoting the Organization’s Objectives:

Digital marketing is the process of utilizing digital technology – various online tools and platforms – to market and promote a business, it’s products and services. The process is run via online channels foremost of which is the website.

For the reason that the world is becoming more technology-dependent, all businesses, whether profit or non-profit, should have a website. Here’s a statistic that you should keep in mind:

Of the 7.7 Billion people on our planet, 4.3 Billion are on the Internet every single day. That number accounts for 55.6% of the world’s total population.

If your business is not on the Internet, how would potential customers – or donors – find you? The website is your business address on the Internet.

The cost of putting up a website will depend on the type, functionality, and design features. At Mountaintop, we can customize a fully-functional, mobile responsive website that will meet your needs and budget.

And if you wish, you can build your own website by using a free design template from WordPress. We have written about it in our blog, “How To Build Your Own Website In 4 Easy Steps”.

Another effective channel for digital marketing is social media. According to a study by Sprout Social, 74% of consumers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media content.

Of the 4.3 billion people on the Internet on a daily basis, more than 3 billion are on social media. Facebook accounts for 2.2 billion of social media’s daily traffic.

Setting up a social media account for your non-profit organization will not cost you a cent. There are many social media platforms to choose from – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube – are the popular ones and have large communities.

You can choose 2 to 3 social media platforms to post content on a regular basis. With time and by creating useful, engaging, and compelling content, you should see more traffic driven to your website.

2. The Non-Profit Group Becomes Available 24/7:

Unlike a shopping mall or a commercial building, the Internet does not close down or take holiday breaks. It is open 24/7.

When you have a website and social media accounts on the Internet, your non-profit organization becomes available 24/7.

Potential donors can read about your charitable cause; its purpose, vision, and organizational goals.
The use of compelling content delivered through regular blogs and video links are strong influencers which can immediately convert interest into donations.
If the site visitor wants to make a contribution, we can integrate a donation system that will easily facilitate the payment.

3. Measure Performance In Real-Time:

One of the great advantages of using digital marketing is that you can track its performance in real-time by accessing data known as analytics.

Analytics will provide you key information on your current digital marketing strategy. You will have empirical evidence that will identify the processes which are delivering good ROI.

Likewise, Analytics will point out the processes that are not delivering results. By determining the processes which result in ROI and those which are not, you can fine-tune the strategy.

Thus, you can adjust the budget and allocate more resources to high-return processes. By using analytics as a reference tool to manage your budget, your overall digital marketing strategy should deliver higher ROI.

4. Adapt to Changes In Consumer Behavior:

Blogging and social media marketing are platforms that allow your followers to directly engage with you. Some will post comments related to the content you posted.

Our advice is to respond to these commenters right away – within 24 hours if possible. The reason is these comments are valuable data. They provide keen insights on how your audience thinks, behaves, and processes information.

When you respond, you create a feedback system between your non-profit organization and the commenter.

The feedback system will establish communication which can eventually lead to an important component of business development: Relationship building.

Building a solid market base of end-users and regular patrons will come down to expert relationship management.

Digital marketing will provide you with the platform, tools, and channels to build a strong following and an enhanced presence on the Internet.

In the following section, we will discuss 2 case studies of non-profit organizations which greatly benefited from having a website designed and managed by our company.

We helped our client get a google grant for non profits and we can help other non profits as well Rebuilding Together SGV Foothills

Networkingbizz Digital Marketing Can Help Non-Profit Organizations Meet Their GoalsTop Nonprofit Marketing Strategies!!

    • Google Ad Grants (free paid search ads!)
    • Emotional video marketing
    • Social media content promotion

 

  • Facebook’s “Donate Now” button
  • Networking and partnership marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Speaking engagements

Don’t let the fact that your budget is limited limit your potential to grow your nonprofit with smart, effective, and affordable marketing tactics. Before you know it, you’ll be changing the world faster then you ever thought possible.

 

Things Do After Launching Your Ecommerce Website

By | E Commerce Business News

You finally did it.

After many sleepless nights, you’ve finally launched your website.

It was a long and arduous journey, but it’s finally over!

Except it isn’t.

Not even close.

Launching your website was a big step, but it’s only the first of many.

Just because you have a website up and running, doesn’t mean anybody is actually going to come visit it.

The real work begins now!

Here are the top 20 things you should be doing right after you launch your ecommerce website.

1. Get Your Product Feeds Ready:

Get Your Product Feeds Ready

Your ecommerce website is up, and it’s time to let the world know it!

By submitting a product data feed to shopping channels like Google Shopping and Amazon, you let them know exactly what you are selling. Note that I used the word “exactly.”

That’s because the more comprehensive and specific your product data feed is, the more likely it will show up for relevant searches.

Completing the product data feed might be boring and tedious work, but it will help you get the much-coveted buying-intent-filled traffic all ecommerce websites desire.

2. Install a Backup Plugin:

Your new site is now up and running.

You’ve put a lot of work into it, and you want to protect your investment.

This is the perfect time to set up a backup plugin to make sure your hard work is protected.

In a world full of server crashes and security breaches, a plugin that creates regular backups can give you some invaluable peace of mind that your site can easily be restored in case anything goes wrong.

It’s just the smart thing to do.

3. Set Up Your XML Sitemap File:

Your XML Sitemap

Everybody publishing a website wants to be seen, and creating a sitemap.xml file will help to ensure that yours is.

This file lists and organizes all the pages and URLs of your website, letting Google read and understand it much more effectively.

Doing this will help Google index your entire site and rank it better.

The best part is, if you’re using WordPress, it is really easy to do.

Simply install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin, and you’ll have that sitemap.xml file ready before you can say “Hey Google, notice me!”

4. Spread the Word on Social Media:

If you’ve just launched a new website, you want to get as many visitors on it as you can.

One of the simplest ways to do that is simply to promote your website on social media.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all boast users in the millions.

Take advantage of that audience by promoting your site on these platforms as much as you can.

Let your Facebook friends and Twitter and Instagram followers know that you’ve got something new that they might find of value.

It just makes sense!

5. Set Up Your Website’s Social Media Accounts:

It’s one thing to promote your website on your social media accounts – it’s an entirely different thing to create social media accounts for it.

A well-curated social media account can add legitimacy and authority to your website.

People are more likely to trust a website that is highly visible on social media than one with no social media presence at all.

After all, the more subscribers and followers you have, the more convincing you usually are.

That’s why it’s important to get started on your website’s social media accounts as soon as possible.

6. Create More Content:

If you think that launching the website was the hard part, then you’ve got another thing coming.

That was actually the easiest part of the journey.

Now you’ve got to get to producing a steady stream of content to keep your site relevant and current.

Nobody wants to visit a stale website.

You can never have enough content.

You’ve got to keep churning out new content or your launch is going to be the highlight of your website.

7. Configure Google Analytics:

In all the excitement of your website launch, don’t forget to configure your website with Google Analytics.

Doing this will let give you access to the data that you will find to be incredibly valuable if you want to grow your website.

Configure Google Analytics

This includes:
  • The number of site visitors.
  • How your keywords are doing.
  • Where your website traffic is coming from.
  • Who exactly your traffic is.
  • And much more data.

All it takes is a little bit of Google code.

If you’re serious about growing your website’s audience, then having Google Analytics is definitely a must.

8. Send Out A Press Release:

Your new website is up, but chances are, nobody knows what it’s all about.

That’s why sending out a press release can prove to be valuable.

This serves as a first initial introduction to who you are and what your website is about.

Your press release doesn’t have to be a long, either.

A concise introduction is all you need to let me people know you’re in business.

9. Get Your Site SEO-Ready:

SEO-Ready

 

Promoting your new website on social media and email may get you some good traffic, but nothing beats Google when it comes to reaching some serious numbers.

That’s why getting your site’s SEO right is such a big deal.

More traffic means more potential sales and leads for your new ecommerce website.

Now SEO is incredibly complicated, but you don’t need to be an expert on it.

There are lots of SEO plugins out there like Yoast SEO that can make SEO simple, and really make a big difference in how Google ranks your website.

It’s definitely something you have to set-up right away.

10. Change Your Permalink Structure:

Permalinks are permanent links that people (and maybe more importantly, Google) uses to recognize the individual pages of your website.

WordPress’ default permalinks aren’t very SEO-friendly.

After all, how does the permalink “yoursite.com/?p=101” add any value in Google’s eyes?

Instead, setting the permalink to your post title would be much more useful for SEO purposes.

As an added bonus, anybody reading “yoursite.com/post-title” can get a quick idea of what the page is all about at a glance.

11. Set Up Google Search Console:

Google Search Console

Google Search Console (GSC) should be one of the very first things you set up on your new website.

GSC allows you to understand how Google sees your website.

This is extremely valuable because if you can understand how Google sees your website, you can take specific steps to improve your ranking.

It also shows you who is linking back to your website, as well as point out internal errors, if there are any.

You can also see how your site appears in the search engine results, and let you know which keywords your site is showing up for.

12. Beef Up Security:

You’ve just launched your website and are probably feeling like a proud new parent right about now.

That pride is soon replaced by dread, as you realize there are terrible things out there looking to do your baby wrong: mainly malware, viruses, and hackers.

For peace of mind, look to install a firewall of some sort to protect your website from all these things.

There are tons of free security plugins out there, and you should take advantage.

13. Enable Caching:

Enable Caching

Your site may be brand spanking new, but if it loads like an old car from the junkyard, nobody is going to want to stay on it.

Content is king, but speed is always a major factor when it comes to keeping visitors happy.

Installing a free caching plugin will allow your site to reduce loading speeds significantly.

There are lots of free caching services out there, so it doesn’t make sense not to take advantage.

14. Take Advantage of Google Alert Mentions:

This is by far the easiest way to keep your finger on the pulse.

Setting Google Alert Mentions to your website name and specific keywords you’re tracking can let you know exactly what people are saying about your website and your specific keywords.

This way, you will know what’s current and relevant about the things you are promoting/selling/writing about.

You’ll also know exactly what kind of content your competition might be coming out with.

Knowing these things as they happen will allow you to respond accordingly.

15. Set Up Email List Sign-Ups:

Website traffic is great, but the main point of it is to get into their inboxes.

That’s where you can build relationships, promote ideas, and really sell products to the people.

That’s why it is of utmost importance that you set up a way for your website visitors to leave their emails with you.

Of course, having an email list signup form available is a completely different thing from getting your traffic to actually sign up for it.

Come up with creative incentives to convince your audience that joining your email list will be of value to them, such as offering a free e-book or access to gated content.

16. Take Advantage of HARO:

Advantage of HARO

Help A Reporter Out or HARO is a service that can get you some serious press for free.

Signing up will get you three emails a day with questions from journalists.

If you see any questions you can answer, send an in-depth response to the mystery journalist.

If your response piques their interest enough, they will reach out and most probably use you as an expert source for whatever they are writing.

They get an expert source of information and you get some free exposure.

Everybody’s happy!

17. Create A Press Page:

This is where you can tell your website’s story.

It should talk about what your website is all about, how it came to be, and the key details that make it unique.

This press page is something you will be linking to whenever you are writing to people about your website, so you should take great care to make sure everything is perfect.

Make sure the story is clear, and that the copy is grammatically perfect.

18. Reach Out to Website Editors & Bloggers:

It might seem like a strange idea to reach out to websites and blogs that are in the same field as you, but getting connected to more established people can really help with your new website’s credibility.

Start nurturing a relationship with these people and email them one-by-one to see if they would be willing to work with you.

If the content you have to offer is good, they’ll recognize the value that you bring and maybe even give you a valuable shout-out on their website.

19. Build an Initial Link Foundation:

Ecommerce or not, every website looking to get higher in the rankings should look to generate inbound links.

Inclusion in free (and some paid) directories is an ideal option for businesses with a local footprint or a business without any existing backlinks.

There’s no shortage of entries and submissions, so it might take a while before you actually get on the site.

That’s why it makes sense to submit as soon you are launched.

It also doesn’t hurt your application to have a great website that offers a lot of quality content, is aesthetically pleasing, and just generally works really well.

20. Add More Products!

A new website usually has much less content on it than one that is more established.

That’s why it’s a good idea for ecommerce websites to add more products as soon as possible.

This adds valuable content that can help your site with its ranking for certain keywords.

A website with more product selection also looks a lot more legitimate than one that’s almost empty.

Implement These Strategies to Fuel Your Sales Machine

Launching an ecommerce website is no easy feat.

But it’s what you do after the launch that really determines your success.

Be sure to keep these tips in mind and watch your traffic – and more importantly, sales – shoot through the roof.

Networking Bizz is part of the Top Shopify Developers list in Design Rush

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Future Of Ecommerce Trends!!

Future Of Ecommerce Trends!!

By | E Commerce Business News
With every aspect of our lives getting computerized the future of eCommerce is very bright.

It has grown tremendously, progressed from desktop users to laptop users and now mobile users. eCommerce is where the excitement is today.

However, brick and mortar stores are still getting a major share of the business. Therefore, a combination of online and offline stores is where the future lies. A balance between the two will go a long way.

Retailers have to be on their toes to be successful and have a worthwhile profit margin because there is a lot of competition not only from brick and mortar stores but even online stores.

The global online retail sales figure is expected to reach 17.5 % in 2021. B2B sales will increase by 2020 globally to $6.6 trillion. Amongst all the online activities online shopping is the most popular.

ecommerce-sales

Digital development is taking place in leaps and bounds, therefore eCommerce development services are growing. Being tech-savvy today is very important.

1. THE FUTURE OF ECOMMERCE CANNOT BE IGNORED:

Future-of-Ecommerce

Online retail shops are very popular, especially amongst youngsters. Therefore, brick and mortar stores need to have a digital presence also.

However, there is also the need for physical stores as people need to touch, feel and try what they are shopping for. Therefore companies like Amazon are coming up with brick and mortar stores so that they can be associated with the complete shopping experience.

The youth is where the future of online shopping is and the youth spend a lot of time on social media.

So, combining social media and online shopping is a concept that is growing popular. In fact, a lot of youngsters already look for products that appeal to them on social media and get feedback from their online circle so that they know what they are going in for.

This is called ‘Social Commerce’ and is among the most important in eCommerce future trends.

Shopping can be done via multiple channels like if you see a pair of shoes that your friend is wearing on Instagram then you will ask your friend where she got it from.

After which you will get onto that website and buy it. Not restricting shopping to one channel is very beneficial for business.

Online shopping, when done on mobiles, is called Mobile Commerce. This is also an upcoming trend in eCommerce future. This is because of smartphones being used a lot in developing countries. This increases the scope of the global market when it comes to eCommerce.

However, it is important for the eCommerce sites to simplify the process of buying for the consumer and make the sites mobile-friendly so that they have a good shopping experience, not a cumbersome one.

The Internet is slow in developing countries however it is not on mobiles. So, mobile apps can be downloaded and used easily.

2. AUTOMATING OF OPERATIONS IS CRUCIAL FOR ECOMMERCE FUTURE:

types-of-ecommerce

It is very important to automate operations for the growth of eCommerce as the retailers have to have real-time information regarding available stock, shipping of orders along with knowledge of approximate transit time, and various modes of payment should be made available to the customer for his/her convenience.

The business will have to automate stock management, processing of orders, invoice and billing, handling of delivery, returns, and refunds.

This is important as, if orders are not processed in time, if they are not in stock, this will work against the retailer.

Customer experience will not be good and if orders are canceled or delivery is delayed then customers will get onto other sites and not be loyal.

Besides, word of mouth publicity will be negative and will have an adverse effect on the retailer’s reputation.

3. USAGE OF ALL DEVICES FOR THE FULL SHOPPING DEVICES:

Shopping-Devices

Gone are the days when online shopping was done on desktops. Now even at home, mobiles are used for online shopping. It is not necessary that people use mobiles only when they are on the go.

Shopify is a good option to run your store because audiences like it, it works on all devices, and on a desktop, you will be able to see exactly how the design that you choose for your store will look to the mobile audience.

4. DEVELOPING NATIONS WILL HELP ECOMMERCE GROWTH:

eCommerce-Growth

China, India, Brazil, Russia, and South Africa are the emerging markets and will lead to eCommerce growth.

This is because the population of these countries will have access to the Internet which will lead to a lot of potential customers.

All these will be new markets to explore therefore will be new audiences to reach out to.

These nations show the promise of giving a good, lucrative business in the future.

5. PHYSICAL STORES ARE STILL VALUABLE AND CAN GIVE GREAT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE:

Physical-Stores

For example, a top online retailer like Nike has two new physical stores in Shanghai and New York that offer services like customizing products yourself, exclusive products, participation in fitness tests, trying out new products by playing games with them, enrolling a personal shopper, etc.

Shopify gives great customer experience to current and aspiring businessmen. They have opened a new physical store in LA.

These kinds of experiences cannot be given online, therefore a combination of brick and mortar store along with an online store will give the best experience to the shopper.

6. PRODUCT VIDEOS ARE MUCH PREFERRED TO PRODUCT DESCRIPTIONS:

ecommerce-Product-Videos

Videos play a great role in the future of eCommerce because research shows that 60% of online shoppers prefer to watch product videos rather than read product descriptions.

Research also shows that 64% of online shoppers buy products after watching product videos.

Therefore, to include product videos on your website is a good marketing strategy.

7. PERSONALIZATION SHOULD BE INCLUDED IN THE MARKETING STRATEGY:

Personalization-Marketing-Strategy

People like attention and need to feel that there is someone who cares behind the scene. eCommerce sales will go up if you can add a touch of personalization.

You can do this by addressing the customer by name when you send them e-mails, you can give them a sneak preview on your product launches and give them bonus points on what they have bought from your site, you can ask customers to give feedback on what they have bought.

8. ENHANCEMENT OF SHOPPING EXPERIENCE:

Shopping-Experience

Overall customer shopping experience can be enhanced by chatbots, artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence Assistants can give you time to pay attention to important aspects so that your business runs well. They can take tasks like stock taking, handling inquiries, etc.

Chatbots can handle complaints and answer questions regarding a product.

9. B2B ECOMMERCE IS GROWING:

B2B-eCommerce

B2B is growing in leaps and bounds. However, personalization is also required in B2B eCommerce.

Research done shows that 50% preferred personalization when looking for suppliers online with whom they could build good relationships.

10. VISUALIZATION OF PRODUCTS SHOULD BE INTERACTIVE:

Visualization-of-Products

All shopaholics have the need to get what they see. This can be made possible when an online shopper can interact with the product. Technology today gives access to 3D imaging, virtual reality, augmented reality, and some more.

Product videos have evolved therefore online shoppers have the luxury of shopping from the comfort of their homes and their hesitation to buy products online has decreased.

11. OMNICHANNEL SHOPPING:

Omnichannel-Shopping

Sometimes people see a product online and pick it up in a store. They do their research regarding the product online and then go to a physical store to buy it. They use multiple channels to shop.

It has been found that the more channels shopper’s use the higher is the possibility of them buying the product. So, give your customers the information and facility of seeing the product online and buying it from a store near them.

12. CROSS BORDER SHOPPING:

Cross-Border-Shopping

Many people are buying stuff from outside their country. In fact, research shows that 57% of shoppers who buy online have bought something from outside their country in the last 6 months.

Therefore infrastructures and technologies should be in place for you to be able to send across products overseas.

The growth of eCommerce in this area i.e. going global requires you to strengthen your global presence.

13. VOICE COMMERCE:

Voice-Commerce

It is about using voice technology to make a transaction online.

This has become very popular and statistics show that by 2020, business will be $40 million in sales in the U.S. only due to, voice commerce.

14. NEW PAYMENT OPTIONS:

New-Payment-Options

Should be introduced for eCommerce sales to take place comfortably. It will help you to compete and be one up. Google Pay, Apple or Samsung Pay, Paypal are some of the digital wallets you should introduce for your eCommerce business.

Cryptocurrency has also been introduced, however, until now it is being used mostly for big business transactions.

eCommerce is growing. In spite of ups and downs, the eCommerce market is growing at a pace which is exciting but also scary. Every year new changes and challenges have to be met.

However, the future of eCommerce is bright and growing brighter by the minute. For a bright eCommerce future, you need to work with data companies, social media platforms, and technology to make sure that customer information is safe.

To improve the shopping experience and make your shop online more popular and known, the concept of pop-up shops is coming in. Pop-up shops are temporary shops that are put up.

They can be there for 1 day, 1 week or 3 months. You combine this with your website and sales pick up. You can sell products and give the shoppers a very pleasing time in your shop so that your reputation picks up.

After the pop-up shop has been shut down, the pleasing experience will still be there in the buyer’s mind and that will help.

The purchasing power of Global shoppers has become greater, there is an increasing number of social media users, the continuous progress of infrastructure and technology will ensure that the future of eCommerce will reach great heights.

Also, less data being leaked on eCommerce platforms helps customers feel secure and trust them. Customers share their personal information quite easily.

CONCLUSION:

It can be said that eCommerce is here to stay. It is going to be the future of convenience. Giving Shopaholics a good shopping experience will benefit the business tremendously as eCommerce is on the rise.

Going digital is the need of the hour. The world is changing from brick and mortar store shopping to a convenient and fun way of shopping. Social media has brought about a big change. This change has influenced eCommerce in a big way.

It has been predicted that the future of eCommerce in 2020 is that it will be seamless, easier, more convenient and powerful. So, enjoy shopping in the ever-changing world.

Networking Bizz is part of the Top Shopify Developers list in Design Rush

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Improve E-Commerce Consumer Experience

By | E Commerce Business News
How brands can improve their e-commerce experience in 2020 by using marketing tools such as user-generated content to personalize their consumer experience in an effort to support their e-commerce experience strategy.

E-commerce sales are growing year on year, as are the number of e-commerce businesses in each industry. But B2C brands that wish to ride the wave of e-commerce success can’t afford to be complacent.

The reality is, consumers are faced with temptation from their competitors every day, many of whom offer a similar user-experience to your own site. And once they are on your site the consumer might also realize that there is relatively little difference between your products/prices versus those of your competitors. However, there are still ways to differentiate yourself. The online e-commerce experience is where you can make a real difference!

When presented with good consumer experience, consumers are 3.5x more likely to make additional purchases than if they have a poor experience, so, for those companies who are serious about growing their market share it is worth investing in user experience.

What are the solutions to achieving a great consumer experience in 2020? Here are three top tips on how to boost your consumer experience.

Personalization:

Good consumer experience is a highly personalized one. Everyone likes to be made to feel special and no one likes to waste time sifting through content that is not relevant to them.

48% of consumers surveyed said that they have left a website after receiving a poorly curated experience. 91% from the same survey said they would be more likely to shop with brands who recognize and provide relevant offers and recommendations and 83% said they were willing to share their data to make this work. These stats prove that personalization matters, so much so that consumers are often willing to give you their data in order to facilitate a better experience.

There is also evidence of tangible results from brands that adopt a personalization strategy, 93% of those who have experienced YOY revenue increases.

So how can you personalize the shopper experience? Typically brands leverage personalization platforms such as Nosto. Such platforms enable the automatic collection of simple anonymous data points like how often a person visits your website and what they do on your website. The platform then uses such information to serve dynamic content including personalized product recommendations based on what the user has or has not interacted with.

Conversational Marketing:

Nowadays, consumers expect to have asynchronous relationships with brands that they are trying to buy from. In other words, they want to be able to strike up a conversation with the brand to get the answers they need, when they want and where they want. If an e-commerce brand wants to maximize its sales, it can’t afford to let those people looking for quick answers slip away because you cannot give them what they want at that minute.

Online store experiences are slowly replicating the experience of bricks and mortar shopfronts. Thanks to conversational marketing tools, brands can mimic the effect of having helpful sales assistants ready at every customer’s beck and call. Chatbots can take questions and direct shoppers to FAQ sections or even provide detailed explanations of products or services. The more sophisticated chatbot tools take a more quiz-like approach to answer customer queries – the automation of a sequence of questions can help qualify leads and push them towards more relevant offers and promotions. Platforms such as Intercom and Drift allow brands to integrate such functionality with their e-commerce websites.

Social Proof:

Social proof is the idea that we tend to trust other people more than we trust companies. Social proof in the digital marketing world consists of written reviews and visual reviews. You may recognize the likes of TrustPilot who encourage consumers to give a star rating of the product or service they have bought. Visual reviews can exist as positive posts on Instagram, showing happy customers posing with their purchase. Or they could take the form of in-depth “unboxing” videos or application tutorials that show the product’s valuable qualities. Such content is also known as consumer-generated content and it is gold dust for marketers. Why? Because it is the digital version of ‘word-of-mouth’ marketing – this is content that passively markets your product/service for you, without you having to pay anybody.

How does this impact the consumer experience? It turns out that seeking reviews is a regular part of the consideration process for consumers. In fact, 64% of consumers actively seek out reviews before handing over their money according to Social Media Week. So, the implications are that, if you make the review finding easier and quicker, you have the ability speed up the process and give the consumers the confidence they need to buy your product.

What’s next?

If you are an e-commerce business looking to outpace your competitors in 2020 and really ramp up your revenue, putting your consumer experience under the microscope is a must. Not only could you be missing out on those harder to convince window shoppers, but there’s also potentially useful data you could be losing out on.

The good news is all of the above is achievable, because of the emergence of cutting-edge marketing platforms. These tools are also easy to implement, and the majority of providers can provide additional managed services or strategic support if you need it. Sign-up for platform demos, take a look through relevant case studies and begin your search for a platform partner for onsite personalization, social proof, and conversation marketing.

Networking Bizz is part of the Top Shopify Developers list in Design Rush

Ecommerce buy

The Customer Journey: What It Is & Why It Matters for SEO

The Customer Journey: What It Is & Why It Matters for SEO

By | seo advice for business

“The Customer Journey” is a phrase you’ll hear often in marketing.

It is used to describe how a consumer becomes aware of your brand and interacts with it during the purchase funnel.

In essence, it is the summation of the touchpoints your customers have with your company.

The term “customer journey” is a bit of a misnomer, it suggests that we should only pay attention to people who have bought our product or service.

The journey we should be tracking starts way in advance of that final step.

It also doesn’t necessarily end in the coveted sale or conversion.

Every interaction a person has with your brand, whether a customer or not, is of importance.

These touchpoints will influence their discovery of your products and services.

They will impact decision making and ultimately, they will affect whether they become a loyal customer.

Offline & Online:

Something that might be hard to link is the impact of these interactions with SEO.

As digital marketers, our focus tends to be on traffic coming to our sites or digital properties.

By ignoring other channels, or offline relationships, we are missing out on valuable data about our market.

A customer might first come across a brand through a billboard advertisement.

They may have heard about it from a friend.

These early stages of awareness will impact how the brand is perceived.

In turn, they may have an effect on the likelihood of an organic search later on.

Offline interactions range from hearing about the brand in passing all the way through to purchasing an item in a physical store.

These moments will influence a user’s likelihood to search for that brand or service in the future.

Time:

Customer journeys might not be linear, or quick.

Think about the first time you heard about the manufacturer of your car.

You may have been a child when you first came across them. They might have been only slightly on your radar as a brand.

How many years of seeing advertisements, being a passenger in your friend’s similar model car, and walking past their vehicles in parking lots before you became a consumer of that brand?

In that time:
  • How many product recall notices have you seen for that brand?
  • Seen one of their models that have broken down?
  • Been aware of emissions scandals they were involved in?

Every time you have heard about or experienced that brand will have contributed to your overall perception of their vehicles.

Every customer journey is different.

It is a collection of experiences that brings a consumer closer or further away from a purchase.

Third-Party Influence:

Your perception of a brand will not have been influenced only by them.

As marketers, we cannot completely control the messaging that goes on around our brand.

Due to that, there will be negative comments and perceptions forming that we need to attend to, but won’t always be aware of.

How Does SEO Fit In?

SEO is a very important factor in how a potential or existing customer might view your brand.

Touchpoints in organic search happen all the time during the purchase funnel.

The image below shows a typical conversion funnel.

A consumer becomes aware of your product or service, considers their options and eventually purchases.

How Does SEO Fit In

Every step of this funnel could have a search associated with it.

Take someone looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

They may start with the search “how to reduce carbon footprint.”

A website, which sells vegan products, might have a page that answers this.

At that point, the consumer becomes aware of vegan food as a possible answer to their initial inquiry.

They are interested in the idea of substituting some of their regular food items for vegan products.

Their follow up search might be “is vegan food good for the environment?”

They may begin to consider vegan products as a viable purchase.

Their searches might resemble “healthy vegan food”, or “vegan recipes”.

By the time they have decided they wish to purchase some vegan food to try they may begin to compare products.

“Cheapest vegan sausages” or “where to buy vegan cheese” are the searches they conduct next.

The point at which they decide to order vegan products is down a long journey of searches and interactions with brands.

Let’s not forget the conversations they may have had with friends, family, and colleagues in person and via social media.

Before Conversion:

SEO is critical to the consumer journey prior to a sale or conversion taking place.

Organic is often an early touchpoint for a brand online.

When an individual is looking for a solution to a problem a search engine, or YouTube search is often conducted.

Zero-Click Searches:

These searches might not result in a click.

A featured snippet might provide all the information a searcher needed at this stage.

The brand that provided the answer may benefit from the awareness generated, however.

Discovery Searches:

Before a consumer even begins looking for a product or service like your brand’s they might become aware of you in some other way.

This can lead to discovery searches.

For instance, as a resident of the UK, I have heard only a small amount about a “baby peanut” being featured in some U.S. advertising.

I had no idea who “Mr Peanut” or “Baby Nut” are, however.

A quick search yielded a lot of information about the Planters brand and their advert, which I had not heard of before this search.

A touchpoint; seeing something on social media about the “Baby Nut” advert, led me to become more aware of the Planters brand through an organic search result.

Verification Searches:

A searcher might also have heard a rumor about your brand and look to verify if it is true.

For example, a quick search for “is Nestle bad”, yields pages of results.

During my search from the UK, Nestle’s own website was not on the first page.

There was nothing from the brand to counteract the negative press I was seeing in the SERPs.

Your consumers might be exposed to messaging about your brand that is not favorable to you.

This early touchpoint may have a disastrous impact on their consumer journey with your brand.

As marketers, we need to be on top of any negative sentiment that exists online about our brand and ensure that we are the ones answering those verification searches.

The easiest way to stop negative sentiment online is to deal with the issues that have caused it.

Negative press stories, forum discussions slating your products, and a Google My Business listing littered with 1-star reviews need to be addressed, not buried.

During Conversion:

SEO will impact and be impacted during a consumer’s conversion journey.

Consideration Stage:

At the consideration stage, it is important for content on your website to address concerns or blocks to conversions your purchasers might have.

If there are common searches around “is a vegan diet healthy” then as a vegan food supplier this is something that needs to be addressed on your site.

Not only will it help with the top-of-the-funnel organic searches it can help with conversions for other channels too.

Comparisons:

A consumer might be comparing your product with a competitor’s before buying.

Content on the site that addresses your brand’s benefits, pricing, and customer support can answer those comparison searches.

As with consideration stage searches content you create to answer “[X brand] vs [Y brand]” searches can help with the conversion of traffic from other channels.

After Conversion:

SEO does not just impact a consumer journey up to the point of sale, it also can help keep a customer loyal to your brand.

After-Sales Support:

After a product has been bought there may well be follow-up questions a consumer has.

“How do I set up my [brand] printer”, “how do I change the ink cartridge in my [brand] printer?” and “where can I buy replacement ink cartridges for my [brand] printer?” will seem like familiar searches for anyone who has brought a printer.

SEO will be a common touchpoint for consumers looking for follow-up support from their brand.

As marketers, we cannot assume that our consumers will head straight to our brand’s site to find these answers.

Impact Future Consumers:

We all know how important reviews are for conversion.

One of the primary places for reviews to be left is on an organic search property – Google My Business.

Not only do reviews on Google My Business potentially impact its rankings, as stated by Google, it will also affect how future consumers perceive your brand.

A disgruntled customer can impact future sales by leaving negative reviews.

Ensuring that reviews left on your Google My Business property (and elsewhere) can give your brand the opportunity to correct misunderstandings and show your efforts to rectify problems.

This can work to turn a consumer’s negative experience with your brand into a positive one as well as show that to potential future customers.

How Can We Use SEO to Affect the User Journey?

SEO can be highly effective in making the consumer’s journey with your brand smooth and positive.

Work With Other Departments:

It is important to not isolate SEO or digital marketing from the rest of the business.

There needs to be an understanding of how a user might journey through a website once they have landed on it.

This means the UX, CRO, and SEO teams need to be working together.

This way users can find the information they arrived on the site to find and move through to conversion easily.

Align SEO With Other Marketing Channels:

Make sure you are aware of upcoming campaigns that might influence what users search for in relation toy our brand.

For instance, “Baby Nut”, could (and may well) have a page on the Planters website introducing those curious about the character to the Planters brand.

However, without this consideration, the clicks are going to news outlets, competitors or forums instead.

Use Your Tracking Data:

Traffic tracking programs, like Google Analytics, allow you to identify how visitors from different channels are interacting with your website’s content.

Using reports like Google Analytics’ “Top Conversion Paths” allows you to identify which touchpoints are contributing the most to conversions on your site.

This data is invaluable in understanding how the consumer journey on your site is being impacted by SEO.

If organic search is often following another channel in a conversion path look more at the preceding channel.

  • What paid advert did they initially arrive on the site from?
  • Which display advert led them there?

Understanding the preceding touchpoints can help you to tailor the content on your site to more effectively follow on from the initial interaction with the site.

Spend Time Where Your Audience Is Talking:

Getting to know what your audience is talking about can help enormously with ensuring that you will be providing the right content at the various stages of their consumer journey.

For instance, looking on an industry forum could provide you with an understanding of what consumers are interested in and what information they will respond well to.

Use that within your long-tail keyword research to meet the needs of your target audience.

If you notice that there is negative sentiment growing about your band within this community then it gives you opportunity to address the problems before they end up as negative reviews on your Google My Business listing, or on the review websites that are competitors in the SERPs for your brand search terms.

Don’t Forget Your Internal Site Search:

Searches carried out on your site are a goldmine of information about what your audience is interested in but cannot find on your site.

JP Sherman of Red Hat gave a highly informative talk at Search Y Paris in February 2020 on using site search more effectively to understand the intent of your consumers.

This commonly used touchpoint in a consumer’s journey can be a make or break for them depending on how well your site search returns what they are looking for.

The same practices that make us effective at SEO on the likes of Google and Bing can be used in our site’s internal search functionality to improve user discovery of content.

Looking at what users are searching for on your site search can also give a clue as to what information they want to find but can’t currently.

It might be that the information doesn’t exist on your site. In which case, consider creating it.

It might already be there but buried so deep that users can’t find it from your navigation systems.

Conclusion:

The consumer journey is a succession of touchpoints your audience has with your brand.

Throughout this journey, SEO plays a part.

Not only can it influence the experience a consumer has with your brand, but it can also benefit from understanding the other touchpoints they will encounter.

Don’t forget that SEO can only be successful if every part of a user’s experience with your brand is a positive one.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Choosing the Right Web Design Platform for You

Choosing the Right Web Design Platform for You

By | Website Design Advice

If you’re a beginner at web design, the number of popular web design tools and software can be a bit daunting.

If you just need a quick and easy website, you might just feel like hiring a web designer and letting them handle it.

However, it’s essential to know the basic pros and cons of the most popular web design platforms so you don’t end up making the wrong choice and racking up development costs when you start over.

It’s important to know what you want to get out of a web design platform and how much you’re willing to pay for one.

Web design platforms can be subscription-based or non-subscription-based.

Furthermore, different platforms have different features aimed at specific parts of the market.

For example:
  • Platforms such as Magento and Shopify are geared towards ecommerce websites.
  • Joomla and Drupal are highly customizable and might be preferred by advanced developers with programming knowledge in HTML and PHP.

Here is a comparison of the top web design platforms based on your specific wants and needs as a site owner or web designer.

Non-Subscription-Based Platforms:

Non-subscription-based platforms let you run your website on your own server since you won’t actually be leasing the platform.

Be aware that just because these platforms are “non-subscription-based” doesn’t mean that you won’t have to pay any fees.

You might have to budget for additional costs such as plugins, themes, and additional features.

Dreamweaver:

Early on, Adobe Dreamweaver was one of the most popular platforms.

In the early days of the web, websites needed to be coded by hand in HTML, and Dreamweaver and a few other software like it, came out with a visual interface to design pages and change the code to HTML.

Dreamweaver is not as popular today, but it still comes with some beneficial features such as being highly customizable and allowing you to convert graphic designs into HTML code.

WordPress:

For the past decade, the most prominent non-subscription-based platform worldwide has been WordPress.

Though WordPress was originally designed for online blogging and still provides excellent support for blog websites, it has become a highly versatile free, open-source platform.

Although the WordPress platform is free, you may have to spend money on a domain name, hosting, and features such as plugins and pre-made themes.

Many of these plugins and additional features are well worth the investment.

For example, if you are doing SEO on your site, you can install the plugins Yoast or All in One SEO Pack to help optimize your WordPress site for search engines.

If there are any extra functions you’d like your site to have, there’s probably a plugin for it.WordPress is also a CMS (Content Management System).

A CMS allows your clients to be able to manage their own websites and do simple modifications or additions, such as adding a blog post.

Although it is possible for the latest version of Dreamweaver to have CMS capability by adding extensions, this functionality is already built-in in WordPress.

Drupal & Joomla:

Drupal and Joomla are in the family of versatile non-subscription-based CMS like WordPress, but they are not as popular and do not have as many plugins and templates as WordPress.

Most developers also agree that WordPress is easier to use. For this reason, I highly recommend WordPress over these two.

However, some experienced developers favor these more. If you are just getting into development then you should do further research to see if these would be more beneficial for your needs.

Subscription-Based Platforms:

Subscription-based web design platforms usually charge a monthly fee and may charge additional fees based on the platform provider, though some of them also have free versions.

These platforms tend to have ecommerce functionality and more technical and security support. Examples of subscription-based platforms include Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace.

Wix, Weebly & Squarespace:

Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are all known for being user-friendly and carrying an array of eye-catching pre-made web design elements.

They are all subscription-based, meaning you pay a monthly fee.

These are all do-it-yourself type platforms where a non-professional should be able to make a decent looking website.

This is both a strength and a weakness for this format.

Because of the more limited amount of templates and plugins, these services are not as versatile as a platform like WordPress, which has a consistently growing selection of third-party templates, plugins, and additional features.

Also, if you’re in the market for something you can tweak with HTML code, Weebly and Squarespace may not be the best choice, as they are built for simplicity.

If you want a more customizable platform, Wix tends to be more malleable to advanced coding.

Lastly, if you subscribe to these subscription-based platforms, you are stuck using them until you decide to switch.

You’ll have to start over from scratch if you choose another platform.

That’s something to keep in mind before choosing one of these services.

Ecommerce Platforms:

If you run an e-tail company, you’ll want a website that is built to support your business and your customers.

While all the platforms discussed thus far have the capability of becoming ecommerce platforms, they may not be the best options for it.

The most popular ecommerce platforms are WordPress with the Woo Commerce Plugin, Magento and Shopify.

WordPress with WooCommerce:

If your site has already been built through WordPress, you can easily install a plugin called WooCommerce, which allows you to add products and credit card processing.

It’s an easy and convenient option, but for larger businesses and sites with thousands of items, platforms such as Magento or Shopify may be more ideal.

Magento

Magento has been the trusted ecommerce web design platform for many major retail brands, such as Coca-Cola, Ford, Nike, and Vizio.

Its many feature-rich extensions provide many possibilities for pricing, discounts, and data collection.

However, Magento can get quite expensive for large websites.

The Community edition starts at $10/month and can go up to $250/month for small websites. The Enterprise edition can cost $25,000 to $125,000 a year, making it more suited for large companies with higher budgets.

Shopify

Shopify is another popular ecommerce platform that is more affordable and accessible, as it provides many online tutorials to help you build your website.

It should be noted that Shopify charges both a monthly fee and a fee per transaction, but this is manageable since most other platforms require you to use a payment processor.

By using Shopify, you already have a payment processor through the platform, so if you decide to use a different payment processor, you could be charged 0.5% to 2% additional.

Other Ecommerce Platforms:

In addition to the above, there are several other ecommerce platforms worth a mention.

They include OSCommerce (which is an open-source software), BigCommerce, Volusion, and Zen Cart.

There are a variety of factors to consider before choosing the right web design platform for your needs, but in the end, understanding what your site needs to be successful is a learning process.

If you’re still figuring out what your site needs, WordPress is a great choice, due to its adaptability and many additional features.

If you know exactly what your site needs, it’s best to choose the option that aligns most closely with the features your site should have.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Create a Mobile-First Website!

Create a Mobile-First Website!

By | seo advice for business

If you keep updated on the latest in SEO, you may be aware of Google’s mobile-first initiatives.

Dubbed “mobilegeddon” when it first became known in 2015, transitioning client sites to full mobile experiences has become a priority for SEOs everywhere.

Optimizing for mobile is more than just design. It’s an entire discipline designed to create websites that display across a wide array of devices and screen resolutions.

And, don’t forget, there are SEO factors involved, too!

As Google’s focus changes to mobile with its mobile-first index, it is now critical to make sure that your site is fully optimized for the mobile platform.

If you don’t, you are likely to lose out on important traffic from Google’s mobile-first index.

In March 2018, Google announced that it began rolling out the mobile-first index as the default for all new domains. This means that the Google index is now primarily mobile.

In industries that rely on separate mobile sites on m-dot (m.) sub-domains, you must take certain leaps forward if you hope to compete in the Google SERPs. This is a critical decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You may be asking:
  • What elements do I need to consider for this undertaking?
  • How do I design for the mobile user?
  • What do I need to do to ensure that my site is compatible for these updates?

Well, you’re in luck because we have the information you may find useful in achieving a successful mobile-first implementation.

Mobile Design Factors You Must Consider:

Make no mistake, design and UX (user experience) are critical factors if you hope to achieve a successful mobile SEO implementation.

From mobile menus to recognizable design patterns, these elements are critical for fostering successful conversions.

By ensuring that your site is designed in this way, you can move forward in your search campaign with confidence in your mobile site.

A Top-Down Approach to Mobile Design Is Preferable:

Developing on mobile requires a mobile-first mindset. One approach that works well with this mobile-first mindset is a top-down approach.

This approach means that extensive planning is involved in the creation of the final version. Every detail is carefully calculated and measured so your mobile site does not look like a tacked-on artifact.

A bottom-up approach is exactly the opposite. Development occurs on a module-by-module basis, with not much planning or thought involved in the process along the way.

As you can imagine, creating a mobile site with the bottom-up approach is a recipe for disaster.

For the most optimal results, use a top-down approach that considers everything in your design from the smallest to the largest.

Mobile Menus:

Mobile menus should be user-friendly, keeping in mind the smaller device, and should not be 100% the same as the navigation on desktop.

While the structure won’t change, the visual elements will change, and their appearance will depend on your device.

Creating recognizable design patterns for your navigation is essential for achieving a true UX-centered design. This doesn’t mean copy all design patterns that you have done previously.

Instead, you must create recognizable icons and elements as determined by your audience.

Don’t forget to “design for the fat finger,” or the largest finger of your audience.

Ensuring your elements are designed according to these factors will result in an experience that caters to your users and their need for UX that fosters better conversions and an easier-to-use website.

Seamless Design Is Imperative:

Creating seamless design means that you are creating design elements across all devices, regardless of platform.

This is a different concept to responsive design, which we will cover below. Even though they do overlap a little.

If responsive design is created to combine desktop and mobile, then seamless design refers to mobile design elements.

When you have seamless design elements, they do not appear different on other screen sizes. A red button on desktop won’t appear as a blue button on mobile, for example.

Or a call-to-action form does not appear differently on the mobile device compared to the desktop device.

Different elements only serve to confuse users, and if they’re moving between devices in certain situations, this will only confuse them.

Consider Larger Tasks & Their Flow:

When was the last time you visited a mobile app, only to find that its process for completing an action was nightmarish compared to the website itself?

This happens when mobile web development oversight gets away from those in charge of the site, with scope creep and bad judgment clouding engineering successful paths to completion for the app.

If your checkout process on your mobile site is nightmarish for your users, you can kiss those conversions goodbye.

Don’t include minor actions on the mobile screen. Instead, you must make sure that your primary action is visible and clearly easy to do.

If your user has to hunt around for credit card payment, or they have to work hard to find something else, they will abandon their cart.

Make sure they can at least save where they’re at as well. Mobile devices are primarily used on the go, and users must be able to save their progress in some way.

Creating a mobile experience without a choice to save your spot only serve to irritate and annoy, and not much more.

Avoid Forced Registrations:

Login walls that force registration should be avoided. These walls appear when your app shows a login wall immediately upon entering the app itself. You don’t gain goodwill among users when you force their registration.

Forcing a user to register can lead to annoyance on their part, and will cause them to dislike your mobile experience.

Just doing this also leads to a loss in credibility and your standing as a service people will want to use.

When was the first time that you got frustrated with the login wall of an app and just chose not to use it because of that?

Make It Simple to Go Back to the Home Page:

A simple icon leading back to home is a great way to create an easy link back to the home page of your site.

If you don’t make it easy for users to get back to the home page, they will likely abandon your site for another one that does.

Mobile users are not all smart SEOs like us.

They need help figuring out where things are on your mobile site until they become more familiar with it.

Creating ambiguity just leads to bad UI, and fewer conversions as a result, because your users cannot understand where things are.

Just because you know your industry, doesn’t mean your client knows it in the same way.

Use the Correct Layout:

Creating a layout for the mobile device has its own challenges, but can be done once you know a few things.

First of all, you must know what the targets on the touch screen device are going to do, and how they are going to function.

Designing for the right finger size is important because this means that your users will be able to use your mobile site design.

Adobe recommends that you design mobile touch targets with this size in mind: 7-10mm. Their argument is that this size “allows a finger to aim and touch the target without too much frustration.”

The entire goal here is to make mobile accessibility much easier than it otherwise would be, and your site easier to use for the user.

Don’t Forget About Text Size!

One more design consideration is text size.

Not only must the text size of navigation elements be considered, but the size of regular text content on the page is also important.

Without quality text at a legible size, you could lose readers. And, you won’t be able to communicate effectively.

By including the right text size as is appropriate for the application of your mobile site, it will help you retain readers by keeping them on your site.

Don’t let a simple thing like text size prevent you from capturing your audience and engaging with them.

The color contrast ratio of your text is something you need to be thinking about.

This is an accessibility point because the worse your contrast ratio is, the more you exclude certain types of readers (especially those who are color blind0.

Use the website color contrast checker tool here to determine whether or not your chosen colors meet the minimum threshold of accessibility as defined by the level you want to reach.

Adobe recommends a 4.5:1 contrast ratio.

Read more about the W3C Color Accessibility Guidelines for more about color contrast ratios.

Google Mobile SEO Considerations:

In addition to design, there are SEO considerations for Google’s mobile-first index, especially if you are transferring over to mobile-first.

Considerations include things like:
  • Page speed.
  • Cross-platform.
  • Cross-display compatibility.
  • Not including pop-ups or interstitials.
  • Mobile content.
  • Proper image optimization.

Google’s Mobile-First Index Contains Only Mobile Results:

Once upon a time before Google’s Mobile-First Index, you had a mix of both desktop and mobile results.

If someone performed a search from desktop, they would get filtered results for desktop.

If someone did a search on a mobile device, they would show results catered to mobile.

This is no longer the case. Since Google’s mobile-first update, all search results are determined by using the mobile version of the indexed page.

The consideration here is critical because it will affect how you create content and design for your mobile device.

What Google Considers a Mobile Device:

To pursue the correct strategy in tackling the mobile SEO world, we must first identify what Google considers to be a mobile device. Do they consider all portable devices mobile devices?

No, they do not.

As you can see, pursuing a responsive design approach is preferable because it targets all mobile devices, and fulfills Google’s requirements for being mobile-friendly.

This is why a top-down approach is so important. It takes into account all potential devices rather than simply one or two.

Make Sure Your Content Is the Same:

Your content must be the same on both desktop and mobile.

You might be wondering if longer content is more suitable for either.

You may be surprised to learn that people actually will read long content on mobile devices according to this case study:

Content Is the Same

If you don’t have the same content on desktop as you do on mobile, you may fall victim to claims of cloaking or other manipulative SEO tactics.

When in doubt, always use the same content on both platforms.

Make Sure Google Is Able to Crawl Everything:

For certain sites, you may have many blocked resources in your robots.txt file.

These resources include things like JavaScript, CSS, and other types of files that you may not want to have indexed.

Without proper developmental oversight, you could quickly lose sight of these types of files.

Perform an analysis of your robots.txt file and make sure it is not blocking too many critical resources.

These resources all affect rendering, crawling, and indexing.

To get the most of your mobile site, you must ensure that your site is fully crawlable and accessible by Google mobile.

Like Google’s Gary Illyes says: “Make that damn site crawlable!”

Address Annoying Interstitials Before You’re Penalized:

Are you aware of interstitials?

You may not know what they are, especially if you have encountered them in passing.

You know, the ads that appear blocking the page on mobile devices?

Advertisements that just don’t seem to want to stop, or otherwise allow you to click away from their annoyance?

These are known as interstitials, or modular pop-up ads that show up unannounced in your phone’s window.

They block your viewing experience, sometimes forcing you to click on the ads.

Google has rolled out an interstitials penalty, all the way back in 2017.

To make sure that you don’t run afoul of Google’s guidelines in this regard, you must make sure that your:

  • Site isn’t hiding content with ads.
  • Pop-ups serve a purpose.
  • Plugins (if you use WordPress) comply with Google’s guidelines for interstitials.

Test Your Mobile Design & Adjust as Needed:

Once your design is complete, it’s a great idea to test it using a testing program like Browser Stack.

This program will allow you to view your mobile site on as many different platforms as possible, providing direct feedback you would not get through traditional analysis.

Building a testing methodology will allow you to increase efficiency and spot design issues before they become issues for your customers.

You can also use the Web Developer Toolbar extension for Chrome and Firefox to test your mobile design directly in your browser.

Page Speed Is Critical:

Faster websites on mobile should be your ultimate goal.

Now, more than ever, optimizing for page speed must be a staple of your optimization strategy.

There are many ways to achieve the lowest page speeds possible on your website.

Adobe Photoshop’s lossless image compression for the web is a great function you can use to physically resize and crunch your graphics.

What’s the difference between physically resizing and crunching?

When you physically resize your images, you only resize the width and height dimensions. Your pixel density stays the same.

So you will end up with a smaller image, but your page size will still be 300 MB because of that one 300 MB image.

Crunching your image refers to reducing the physical pixel density of the image. Adobe Photoshop’s lossless image compression targets both, and you must choose the proper settings to do so.

If you have a WordPress site, using a plugin called SMUSH can do both for you, resulting in a final image that loads fast enough for mobile.

Test Your Site for Page Speed:

Assessing your site’s page speed and making adjustments as necessary is another critical point in your optimization process.

Using the tool here, you can test just your page speed, and make needed changes to satisfy their recommendations.

google-mobile-page-speed-test-

Testing your site regularly can keep you updated on any recent changes your web developer made, or any other member of your team. And, it will help you keep your page speed bottlenecks in check.

When in doubt, always test!

Getting Your Site on Mobile-First Takes Time:

Make no mistake, ensuring your site is fully mobile-first compatible is a timely and costly endeavor.

By using the principles above and working on integrating a full mobile-first philosophy, it is possible to get your site on mobile.

Hiring a competent developer is the first step. This is followed with a top-down approach, ensuring that all pieces of your site’s mobile SEO puzzle fit together properly.

Making sure that bottlenecks are plugged up and present no further issues is critical, along with implementing credible designs of mobile elements that will delight your consumers.

Despite the challenge, getting your site onto a mobile-first platform is crucial in this day and age of Google’s mobile-first index.

You must keep yourself updated by reading as many resources as possible on the topic before you leap into the project management parts.

Just a surface-level overview is enough, provided you hire the right developer who can code your site.

Regardless of whether you’re an SEO or someone just getting acquainted with all of the moving parts, you must ensure that all of your mobile-optimization tasks are completed properly.

Your SERP performance will thank you many times over.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Difference Between an SEO Bug & a Feature Request

Difference Between an SEO Bug & a Feature Request

By | seo advice for business
“That’s not a bug, it’s a feature request.”

If you work in an enterprise SEO environment, you have probably heard this phrase.

If you haven’t heard the phrase, then there is a good chance you eventually will.

Understanding what the difference is between the two will save you when approaching SEO issues.

Understanding the SEO Bug

Most of what we do as SEO professionals is about finding foundational and technical issues on the site that causes SEO non-compliance.

Errors and warnings in Google Search Console and Bing’s Webmaster Tools are just the beginning.

Reports of non-compliant URLs in crawling/reporting tools like Botify constantly needing to be addressed.

In an agile environment, logging tickets through Jira make it clear and the bug is pretty straightforward.

Simply put, according to Techopedia:

“A software bug is a problem causing a program to crash or produce invalid output. The problem is caused by insufficient or erroneous logic. A bug can be an error, mistake, defect or fault, which may cause failure or deviation from expected results.”

The simplest way in which a bug should be written out is:
  • Describe (in detail) what you are seeing.
  • Explain what the expected outcome is.
  • Add any screenshots you can to help visualize.
  • For SEO, it’s good to add any reports you have to show the impact.

Attend the next sprint meeting and ask for the ticket to get picked up.

In some cases, you may have to justify the impact to help prioritize the bug, which is where any reports you can attach could come in handy.

As an additional means to track issues related to SEO, I have created a sheet (Excel, Google Sheet or Smartsheet) to track:

  • The issues with all documentation.
  • What team is working on them.
  • The link to the Jira ticket.
  • Status.
  • Level of effort.
  • Impact.

Some companies are large enough that you will have multiple SEO teams working off of the same document, and some are smaller that the SEO Manager is an individual contributor working with multiple engineering teams.

Regardless of your enterprise SEO company structure, keeping track of bugs and seeing them through to completion is a large part of your SEO success.

But, what if the bug you found affects the content on the page, changes how a user interacts, or requires a larger scope of work to tackle a series of related issues?

Feature Requests for SEO

Enterprise companies will mention “feature request” when an SEO addresses issues that users might be facing, or a change needed to help improve SEO that touches content, the design or usability of the site.

A feature can often be considered (or confused by) an “enhancement” which product managers and engineers will often describe as a request for additional functionality that does not already exist.

It depends on how your organization communicates and structures these requests.

When drafting up your feature request for SEO consider the following:
  • Product strategy: Does this request fall in line with the company’s long-term strategic vision?
  • Demand: Is the feature you’re requesting something that would benefit other lines of the business as well?
  • Level of effort: Work with the teams to understand how much work this would take.
  • Available resources: Availability of all team’s resources and where it fits in their priority list.

What You Need to Include in Your Request

Your feature request should be as specific and detailed as possible. Include user scenarios and acceptance criteria that are clear and precise.

With regards to SEO feature requests, user scenarios will often detail out what search engine crawlers should see rather than what an actual person would see.

In some cases, I will simplify the story a bit more to explain what a “first-time user” would expect since a bot is a non-cookied visitor with no known information available (no location data, no previously visited pages, no referring site, etc).

Include any documentation you can add that supports the problem you are trying to solve or any visual of expectations.

This is where your feature request will most likely need a designer to create a mockup and any copywriters to generate the content on the page that guarantees keyword placement and avoid any inadvertent SEO issues.

Attach any documentation you can that supports why this feature request is necessary.

You can add:
  • Crawl reports that expose why you need the work.
  • Webmaster guidelines.
  • Reputable blogs.
  • Case studies.
  • Or a proof of concept you have documented somewhere.

Adding documentation will help justify why the feature is necessary and help get it prioritized.

Advocating the Feature Request

Submitting a feature request with your product manager or engineering teams isn’t the end of your involvement.

A good enterprise SEO will follow-up and engage with the people that are working on their requests regularly.

I personally like how cPanel ends their “What Makes a Great Feature Request” guide:

“Take responsibility not only for your idea but also how you advocate for it. Would you get on board with an idea if the person proposing it was negative or angry? We wouldn’t either.”

I have encountered many SEO professionals at enterprise companies who don’t necessarily exercise the finer nuances of distinct expressions.

Ensuring communication is conscious, focused and effective with individuals is key.

By keeping a positive attitude and respecting feedback while the feature request is being completed will encourage teams to complete the work necessary for SEO.

By understanding what a bug is for SEO versus what you are asking as a new feature, SEOs will find that the teams they work with are more receptive to what is being asked.

This is all key to knowing what team(s) to work with, how much involvement there will be in getting to the end result, and helping to prioritize the work needed.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Ways to Make Your Smart Bidding Smarter

Ways to Make Your Smart Bidding Smarter

By | Networking Bizz News

How and how often do you optimize bids?

The ideal frequency depends on:
  • Campaign goals.
  • The amount of data available to your ads and keywords.
  • Competitive landscape.

Still, it is safe to say that a regular bid review is needed.

Thankfully, with all the automation solutions, bid management can be systematic. Advertisers quickly get access to the same engine features.

That is not to say, though, that automation can take all aspects of bid management decision making off your hands.

Sure, automation supports scale, allows for complex rule setup, and enables optimization to multiple goals.

However, as with any campaign settings, a “set it and forget it” approach will not support long-term success.

While it is tempting to put bidding on autopilot with auto-bidding, that will not achieve strategic advantage vs. competitors.

To stay ahead in the long run, consider these four strategies to enhance your automated bidding.

1. Don’t Set & Forget

The first step toward best-in-class bidding is to periodically re-evaluate your bidding approach.

Rather than having an artificial schedule (e.g., monthly, quarterly), develop a schedule based on your business cycles.

Peak traffic periods, times of low or steep competition, new product launches, etc. often do not align squarely with calendar months and weeks.

Adjusting your bids leading up to, during and key business events will ensure the budget is spent wisely and the latest competitive insights are taken into account.

2. Incorporate Additional Data Sources for More Holistic Optimization

To further up your bidding game, incorporate multiple data sources into your bid rules.

Engine-specific tracking solutions are great at optimizing but are limited in the information accessible to their tools by what their pixels can track.

For example, Google’s attribution models operate with the walled garden of activity measured by their pixel.

While campaigns are seemingly optimized and data is attributed within the multi-touch approach, that is really within the limited view available to the pixel – not multi-touch in the full sense of that concept.

To solve that challenge, create metrics within your analytics platform and import them into your paid search platform or bid management tool to create custom metrics.

This will allow optimizing with the knowledge of the entire digital activity, rather than the slice available by default to your paid search tracking.

This additional data can include activity from other channels, but also onsite intelligence.

Consider supplementing traditional KPIs like conversions, CVR, and ROI with onsite engagement metrics (form actions, page views, time on site, etc.) to create weighted, blended metrics.

With the help of third-party providers, it is now also possible to incorporate data via APIs around:

  • Behavioral insights.
  • Weather patterns.
  • Demographics.
  • Other insights.

Typically associated with non-paid search channels, this data can be successfully incorporated with paid search campaigns.

Yes, in-engine advanced demographics audiences allow this.

However, they offer only a few dozen categories. Third-party providers can offer hundreds, if not more potential categories, to take advantage of bid adjustments.

The extra data and insights are particularly valuable for optimizing for mid and upper funnel activity.

Say there are two generic keywords with similarly low ROI, but one has better consistently better onsite engagement.

This can inform creating a bid rule for situations when low ROI terms are worth continuing to pursue.

3. Add Custom Modifiers Based on Conversion Stages

Say your site only sells one product or provides a single service. Or the site is simply small due to the narrow scope of your business.

While there is much less on-site intelligence to incorporate, there is still potential to enhance paid search bidding beyond the traditional bid to conversion approach.

Develop rules and optimize to different stages of the conversion path. Of the many users who enter the conversion path, usually only a fraction converts.

The other users are still more valuable than those who didn’t even start a conversion path signaling that keywords that brought them are still valuable.

Group this activity into sets of users of different value and develop distinct bidding strategies for each one.

4. Generate Savings with Negative Bid Adjustments

One often overlooked aspect with bid rules is how they can save budget, not just help drive aggressive visibility and return on investment.

Be sure to set up bid tools that reduce bids based on these situations.

Paying More Does Not Lead to Incremental Benefit

For example, many branded terms have limited competition and escalated bidding does not lead to incremental gains.

Why continue bidding more if it will barely affect impression share or conversion volume?

This is an excellent chance to save a buck, lower bids and reinvest into where the budget will go further.

Build up Savings Based on Seasonality

If there is a lot of volatility throughout the year and competition is strong, there is an additional incentive to bid down and build up savings.

Even if metrics suggest bidding up, one may want to still bid down to build up savings.

This reserve can then be deployed at a later point when competition and/or search volume is highest.

As with any strategy, bid management is most effective if combined with other measures.

Revisit your ad messaging and landing pages as you develop bid management strategies for maximum impact.

If bids are raised for a more aggressive push, competitors will likely respond with a counter move.

For ongoing bid tweaks, it is impractical to change ads or landing pages.

However, for longer-term shifts in bidding strategies, more compelling ad text and, if possible, a custom landing page, can really help.

After all, bid management only helps the ad to be triggered.

It is the ad message that will compel the user to click to the site and landing page that will motivate the user to engage with its content to convert.

So get really smart about your bidding.

For a truly winning strategy:
  • Enhance default automated rules of the engine platform and/or your bid management tool with additional data.
  • Be sure to look for savings and set up multiple rules based on users’ conversion path engagement.
  • [Video Recap]

 

Tactics to Get More Customer Reviews for Your Local Business

Tactics to Get More Customer Reviews for Your Local Business

By | Networking Bizz News

While digital marketing is always evolving, one thing remains constant:

The importance of word of mouth.

In the old days, word of mouth was quite literally done by the exchange of words coming out of people’s mouths over casual chit-chats.

Those conversations about businesses still happen IRL, but have largely moved online.

Think about it – wouldn’t you rather trust a recommendation from a friend or family over a branded commercial?

Exactly.

In fact, people trust other people more than they could ever trust a brand or its ads.

There are many online review stats that prove this point:

  • 91% of consumers say that positive reviews make them more likely to use a business.
  • 82% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses.
  • 76% trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.

The average consumer reads 10 reviews before feeling able to trust a business.
So, without a doubt, more (and better) online customer reviews can make all the difference.

It may seem daunting at first, but garnering more reviews for your local business isn’t as hard as you might think.

Just try the following eight techniques.

1. Collect Email Addresses During Billing:

Asking for the customer’s email address and phone number at the time of purchase is a big step toward landing a review from them.

Because usually, if someone is willing to share these contact details with a business, it is highly likely they had a satisfactory experience and thereby, quite likely to share their experience with others.

Once you have their emails, send a friendly follow up after a week and ask them to write an honest review about their experience with your business.

Provide a choice of review platforms, such as Google My Business, Yelp, or Trustpilot, so they can pick what’s more convenient for them.

2. Use In-Store Placards to Encourage Reviews:

Being a local business with a brick-and-mortar store, you can make use of in-store signage to spur reviews.

This can be in the form of banners, flyers, brochures, and window clings.

You can also include a review request at the bottom of the bill receipts.

Furthermore, you can have a kiosk with an in-store app that can direct customers to a page on the business website to leave an on-site review.

Or, you can even have a QR code that when scanned, points to a list of review profile links which enables them to choose the platform of their choice to write a review.

These are clear cues to customers about your desire and appreciation for online feedback, proving you care about their opinions and continuous improvement of your services.

3. Verbally Mention How Much You’d Appreciate Honest Feedback:

Train your employees to mention how much an honest review would be appreciated, especially if a customer seems satisfied.

Of course, this tactic won’t be effective if there’s a line of customers and the person at the counter keeps repeating the same “please review us” message to everyone.

But, when the rapport is right, a friendly staff member should be authorized to use their judgment to say, “It’d be great if you’d consider dropping a review about <business name>”.

In this case, an ask for a review will sound heartfelt instead of pushy. Keep in mind that this applies to both in-store staff and online/phone support.

4. Include Review Reminders on Your Website:

The easier you make it for your customers to leave a review, the better the odds you have of landing more reviews.

It sounds super obvious and yet so many businesses aren’t making any effort to simplify the review writing process for their customers.

You see, a big reason why most people don’t leave a review is that they don’t want to make an effort to “learn” how to do so.

Even if they do know how to, it’s just viewed as an unnecessary tedious process which they can’t be bothered with.

So, make it as straightforward as you can for your customers to leave their valuable feedback.

Use call-to-action buttons and pop-ups (not in an annoying way) on your website to lead them to your Yelp or Google My Business review page.

Consider using a direct link generator tool like Supple to generate a unique Google review link for your business and send it to your customers via email.

Clicking on this link brings customers directly to the URL on Google My Business where all they have to do is write the review and post it.

Don’t expect your customers to follow an elaborate path for writing reviews as it’s highly unlikely they’d do that.

5. Incentivize the Process:

As there’s nothing tangible in it for them, most people need a nudge to write a review. And that nudge comes in the form of incentives such as vouchers, gift cards, reward points, and special offers.

In this way, customers would feel it’s worth their time to post a review, making it a win-win for both parties. This also serves to improve customer retention and loyalty to your local business.

Note that there’s a difference between providing incentives to actual customers to write honest reviews and directly buying fake reviews from people.

Never do the latter, not only is it unethical but it’ll only hurt your business in the long run. Always ask and incentivize for genuine feedback.

6. Leverage Social Media:

You can use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to post specific questions regarding your business’s performance.

Interested followers can be directed to leave a review on their choice of review platform.

For instance, if you have a restaurant business, you might informally ask if there was an older menu item that was discontinued that your followers really miss.

You could ask customers to mention that in their review as a “vote” for bringing it back.

This technique empowers customers to share fun stories in the form of reviews while boosting the social media engagement of your brand.

7. Thoughtfully Respond to All Reviews:

No matter how busy you are, if someone takes the time to review your business, it’s your duty to respond.

And while it’s always advisable to avoid sounding robotic as a brand, even a simple timely “thank you” can encourage customers to stick around with your business.

In other words, your response should ideally be personalized and uniquely worded.

When people see that you respond to every review, good or bad, it gives the impression that the business truly cares about consumer sentiment, thus providing an incentive for new customers to take a moment to share their own experiences.

Also, don’t feel dejected by negative reviews – they help make your brand more authentic.

If all the reviews are sunshine and rainbows, there’s almost always something fishy.

People would start doubting the authenticity of those reviews.

Here are some guidelines to follow when responding to negative reviews:

  • Respond as quickly as you can.
  • Acknowledge your mistake.
  • Explain your point of view courteously.
  • Write a meaningful and personal apology (even if you think it’s not your fault).
  • Provide an immediate resolution or compensation (such as a refund, voucher, etc.).
  • Request to take the matter offline if things seem to be getting out of hand.

Use bad reviews as an opportunity to improve your business and show that you care about your customers’ satisfaction.

Go back to the drawing board and fix the root cause of the problem.

Long story short, follow the golden rule of responding to reviews ― always respond and never respond harshly.

8. Delight Your Customers With a Great Experience:

Your customers’ in-store experience is what’s pivotal to the amount and quality of reviews you’ll receive.

If a customer is awestruck with your product, service, or the experience they had, they’ll feel obliged to leave a review.

Delighting customers and exceeding their expectations is key to more and better reviews.

So, if you are striving to deliver the best possible customer experience, rest assured it would pay off.

Final Thoughts:

Can you remember the last time you did business with a local store without first checking its reviews online?

Likely not.

Customer reviews serve as one of the best forms of social proof for your business.

More often than not, online reviews are the tipping point where prospects convert into customers.

Not to mention they carry a lot of weight in terms of achieving better rankings on Google.

So, if you don’t already, it’s time to give online word of mouth the attention it deserves and focus on earning more customer reviews for your local business.

  • [Video Recap]

 

SEO & JavaScript: The Good, the Bad & the Uncertainty

SEO & JavaScript: The Good, the Bad & the Uncertainty

By | seo advice for business

JavaScript and SEO have long been a debated topic among developers and SEO experts.

Search engines have made, and continue to make, significant improvements in indexing JavaScript websites.

That said, the question of whether or not major search engines can properly render pages created using JavaScript remains muddled.

The Good: New Developments Ease Compatibility:

Google and Bing made recent SEO announcements related to JavaScript last year, revealing improvements to ease compatibility.

Google announced that they have started using the latest version of Google Chrome to render webpages executing JavaScript, Style Sheets and more.

Bing announced that they are adopting the new Microsoft Edge as the Bing Engine to render pages.

Bingbot will now render all web pages using the same underlying web platform technology already used by Googlebot, Google Chrome, and other Chromium-based browsers.

Both leading search engines also announced that they will make their solution evergreen, committing to regularly update their web page rendering engine to the most recent stable version of their browser.

These regular updates will ensure support for the latest features, a significant leap from the previous versions.

Search Engines Are Simplifying SEO by Leveraging the Same Rendering Technology:

These developments from Google and Bing make it easier for web developers to ensure their websites and their web content management system work across both browsers without having to spend time investigating each solution in depth.

With the exception of files that are not robots.txt disallowed, the secondary content they see and experience in their new Microsoft Edge browser or their Google Chrome browser is what search engines will also experience and see.

For SEOs and developers, this saves time and money.

For example, there is:

  • No longer a need to keep Google Chrome 41 around to test Googlebot.
  • No longer a need to escalate to Bing.
  • No longer a need to maintain a compatibility list of which JavaScript function, style sheet directive work per search engine.

And the list goes on and on.

With all this great news and free time, does that mean a green light for JavaScript?

Likely, not.

The Bad: JavaScript Is Still Facing Many Limitations & Risks:

Long story short, JavaScript can complicate the search engines’ ability to read your page, leaving room for error, which could be detrimental for SEO.

When a search engine downloads a web document and starts analyzing it, the first thing it does is understand the document type.

If the document is a non-HTML file (examples: HTTP redirect, PDF, image or video) then there is no need to render the document leveraging JavaScript stack, as this type of content does not include JavaScript.

For HTML files, if they have enough resources, they will attempt to render the document using their optimized browser rendering solutions.

Problems start to surface when JavaScript is not directly embedded in the document.

<script type="text/javascript" src="https://www.domain.com/files/myjavascript.js" />

Search engines must download the file to read and execute it.

If the content is robots.txt disallowed, it won’t be able to.

If they are allowed, search engines must succeed downloading the file, facing crawl quota per site and site unavailability issues.

Search engines generally don’t do complex actions such as clicking a button, so it would be best to use basic HTML as <script> link to the file like the example above.

Another potential pitfall is the JavaScript file may not be in sync with the cached version of the website. Search engines generally cache for extended periods of time to avoid fetching every resource on the page often.

JavaScript may do HTTP requests to load content and additional resources files via HTTP calls which multiply the change of facing issues previously explained.

JavaScript included in these JavaScript files or HTML also may not be compatible with the JavaScript engine used by search engines.

When it’s not compatible, the search engine isn’t going to read it, and if we can’t read it, we’re not going to remember it.

With the recent move for search engines to use the same technology and commitment to updating their browsers, this should become easier to deal with in the future.

Also, don’t forget that the handling of JavaScript by the search engines is limited:

  • Search normalized URLs with a #. Dropping all parameters after the # (except the legacy #! Standard).
  • Search engines don’t generally click buttons and do other complex actions.
  • Search engines don’t wait long periods of time for pages to render.
  • Search engines don’t output complex interactive webpages.

JavaScript should not be the new Flash!

Keep in mind that every instance of JavaScript has to be read. When used excessively it will slow the page speed for ranking index.

The Uncertainty: For Optimal SEO, Use JS Practically, Sparingly or Ideally, Not at All:

For large websites and for websites that want to get the most of search engines, it is preferable to detect search engine crawlers based on their user agent (Bingbot, Googlebot) and output basic HTML without JavaScript, or limited JavaScript.

Also, allow crawlers to access content with one HTTP request for the HTML and text that you want to be indexed.

There is also concern that if a site feels the need to differentiate the experience with JavaScript or for bots, that they may be penalized for spammer cloaking.

The good news is Google and Bing both suggest there is no need to worry if you output nearly the same text and content as the one viewed by your human customers.

  • Google says:

“Currently, it’s difficult to process JavaScript and not all search engine crawlers are able to process it successfully or immediately. … we recommend dynamic rendering as a workaround solution to this problem. Dynamic rendering means switching between client-side rendered and pre-rendered content for specific user agents.”

  • Bing says:

“When it comes to rendering content specifically for search engine crawlers, we inevitably get asked whether this is considered cloaking… and there is nothing scarier for the SEO community than getting penalized for cloaking … The good news is that as long as you make a good faith effort to return the same content to all visitors, with the only difference being the content is rendered on the server for bots and on the client for real users, this is acceptable and not considered cloaking.”

Do or Don’t?

For SEO experts, it is preferable for you to not output JavaScript when search engine crawlers are visiting your webpages, assuming the HTML text content and formatting you return look nearly the same as the ones viewed by humans visiting your sites.

If JavaScript has a purpose on the site and page, it can be fine to use it.

Be sure to understand the technical implications so that your documents can be properly indexed or consult with a technical SEO expert.

Search engines are incentivized to index your content to satisfy their customers.

If you come across issues, investigate them using search engines webmaster online tools or contact them.

  • [Video Recap]

 


Emerging Social Media Channels & Trends

Emerging Social Media Channels & Trends

By | Social Media News

Social media trends are like friends; they come and go.

However, the best friends and trends end up sticking around and evolving into permanent parts of our lives with qualities such as integrity, dependability, trust, quality and even ROI.

The bad friends and ‘trendamies’ need to get weeded out before too much time, and resources get depleted.

Social Media Channels: That Was Then, This Is Now

You know social media channels are here to stay when you consider:

Daily Activity

Almost 3.5 billion social media users worldwide coexist with devices.

Users

More than 90% of millennials are active social media users.

Time

Almost 2.5 hours a day is spent on social media.

Effect

More than 73% of marketers say social media is effective with positive ROI.

Customer Impact

If customers get positive vibes from your brand on social, they tell friends and family.

Mobile

More than 91% of social media users access via mobile.

Multi-Networking Is Out

Even though the average social media user has 8.5 social media accounts, “over the past year we have seen an appreciable slowing in the number of accounts held per internet user, across generations,” according to a GlobalWebIndex report.

Social media users are beginning to have a less is more pattern when it comes to social media accounts with more focus on a few accounts than may accounts.

Video Crushes It

More than 28% of users from four major social media platforms engage with live streams each month on any one of these services.

“Video is the hottest platform on the planet right now and the cheapest to distribute through social media,” said Matt Johnston, CEO, and Founder of Guide Social, an exclusive video marketing agency that experienced a 400 percent growth spurt in the last six months. “A reminder to brands, video does NOT have to be expensively produced to be effective.”

Privacy Prevails

Thanks to an eye-opening last year of blatant and sobering privacy snafus, privacy is the new normal, totally connected is out.

“The future is private,” according to Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote at Facebook’s 2019 F8 conference.

Messenger

Zuckerberg called it. Actually, he owns it. ”With over 1.3 billion users, Messenger is primed for business and personal use with the plans to seamlessly blur the lines between WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram with a privacy first in mind.

Digital Detox

As the world becomes social media savvy and saturated; mental health and real-time personal relationships suffer.

Community

Social media has emerged into a mecca of communities crossing verticals, organizations, causes, interests, and topics.

Talking Threads

If you are wondering if your social media team is publishing like it’s 2009, look and see if they are doing link posts with headlines.

Yikes. Say hello to threads.

Made almost famous last year and tested by the Buffer team, it looks like threads are an emerging trend for engagement and exposure.

buffer-twitter-thread

New Friends, New Channels

TikTok

Real. Short. Videos.

This is how the latest social media channel darling, TikTok describes itself in its Twitter bio.

Not on TikTok?

Part of the Music.ly family since 2018, TikTok was one of the most downloaded apps in the Apple Store for 2018 giving Facebook and Instagram a run for their money.

New Friends, New Channels

It’s storytelling with no primping required happening in short videos of 15 seconds or less.

Influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Rachel Pedersen are having fun on the latest social channel to hit the early adapter scene using TikTok for business.

Remember when Facebook was fun, easy and rewarding? Push the TikTok to play button for an authority fast pass now, keeping your audience in mind.

“I have grown an audience of 5600+ followers on the platform in just eight weeks,” said Pedersen, CEO of Social Media United & The Viral Touch Digital Marketing Agency.

Why TikTok?

TikTok’s platform is an opportunity to secure authority on an algorithm that reminds me of Facebook circa 2012.

It’s one of those rare opportunities to quickly establish a massive platform with the algorithm working in your favor.

Videos on TikTok have a longer ‘shelf life’ and are discovered for a long time after they’re created.

TikTok Tips & Tricks
  • Use TikTok to build an audience you can market future offers to. Pedersen uses videos appealing to her ideal audience – including work at home moms, social media managers and busy moms.
  • Advertising on TikTok is not available to everyone – but is something that is being rolled out to popular creators.
  • To be effective on TikTok, business owners must utilize elements of strategy from the platform.
  • The hashtag game on TikTok is crucial, combining trending hashtags with niche down hashtags to be discovered. There is no limit to the number of hashtags, but the limited characters in the description of the video force you to be creative with what combination you use.
  • Using the hashtags #foryou and #featureme open up the possibility of being discovered on the ‘for you’ feed – TikTok promotes specific videos that they believe will perform well.
  • Engaging with other people in your niche brings new opportunities for engagement and followers – you can find these people using hashtags of your chosen niche and industry.
  • Consistency is king on TikTok. Most of your followers will thrive with 1-2 videos created each day.
  • Avoid being promotional on TikTok. People sniff out inauthenticity and sales on this platform, including product placement. They desire entertainment, education, and engagement.
  • Pedersen’s best performing videos on TikTok include her sharing everyday struggles, fears, daily experiences; you attract a massive audience that is ready to engage! Follow @themrspedersen on TikTok for social media inspiration.
IRL

Pre-digital social networks are making a comeback like meetups and business masterminds.

IRL or in real life network – the old school way of actually being human meeting in a brick and taking physical objects and creating something special to send to another human in real life.

Small group peer and interest meetups bring like-minded people together IRL. Masterminds such as Baby Bathwater for entrepreneurs meet up twice a year for three days of brainstorming and business support.

It’s the non-digital side of content. It’s about being real, tangible with an eye-to-eye contact. The art of the thank you note, the handwritten note or getting creative and working outside a computer.

Things you can touch and feel, people you can hug and have a drink with are making a come back.

Medium

Medium is a blogging platform that lets you tap into the world’s most creative and insightful storytellers.

From female disruptors to the news changing the world, Medium has a story for everyone. Its audience is real and could be the home of your best content reaching and discover new audiences.

AR/VR

Audio AR

If you were at SXSW this year, you must have heard about audio AR, destined to transform your environment into an interactive audio-visual soundscape.

Brands like Bose and MagicLeap are honing in on these next-gen experiences where sound rules.

“Magic Leap’s ML1 Augmented Sound in #AvatarChat was supersonic! As the avatars moved so did our voices! It was even better than if I was standing next to someone. Imagine the possibilities,” said Social VR expert Navah Berg.

Carl W. Adams said perfectly at SXSW 2019 in a Bose AR fireside chat

“Without audio, you can have the prettiest pictures in the world, but you’re going to have a [email protected]#!y show,” Adams said.

AltSpace VR

Headset required, AltspaceVR is a virtual reality social media network offering an immersive way to connect.

Host a meeting, take a Spanish class, hang out by the campfire, take a VR yoga class all in virtual reality.

What your Business can do in AltSpaceVR:
  • Create an Activity
  • Create a Portal
  • Visit the Campfire
  • Attend a Meetup
  • Build your brand
  • Teach A Class/Training
Facebook Spaces

Facebook Spaces is Facebook’s virtual reality application that allows users on the platform to interact with each other in a virtual environment.

Spaces also will enable you to create your personalized 3D avatar to use when you’re interacting with others on the platform.

Make calls on Messenger, create content using video or images, create artwork, meet up in groups, go Live on Facebook to your favorite Community of profile.

Here is a list of what your brand can do on Facebook Spaces:
  • Create content for sharing.
  • Have a meeting.
  • Hold events.
  • Go live and record videos.
  • VR to IRL: Place a video Messenger call between VR and IRL.
  • Facebook Spaces Help: More here straight from the Facebook Spaces source.

Digital Detox Channels

In 2018, Apple named self-care the App Trend of the Year, so it’s without a doubt there is a social network for you to turn to when you need to be more mindful of your mental and physical health.

Jiyo

The brainchild of Deepak Chopra, this social network is trading selfies for wellfies.

In 2019 and beyond is all about living your best life. Jiyo is a wellness-focused social network that gives you mindful resources.

From articles, meditation videos, and reminders that push you daily to achieve the best version of yourself, this app does it all.

Shine Text

Are you looking for something to change your life and get a daily attitude adjustment? The Shine network is your new BFF.

According to the website, 96% of its members say Shine helps them feel more self-compassionate.

Well, working and living in this social media-obsessed world, we could all use a little more self-compassion and gratitude

Every morning, Monday through Friday, you’ll get a motivational text, email or Facebook message that will remind you to be the badass you are.

Shine even got the Apple editor’s picks for the top nongame apps of 2018. Shine on.

Aloe Bud

Aloe Bud is your gentle reminder that self-care is an essential daily habit to have.

Productivity

Slack

This productivity platform allows you to eliminate the constant need to send an email to your team for everything.

Have a quick question or something urgent to communicate? Just send your team a Slack message.

Asana

Trouble keeping deadlines on track or keeping up with client deliverables? Enter, Asana.

This project management platform acts like a workplace social media network with likes, emojis, and comments along with the ability to drag and drop videos and images. It lets you keep track of every person and client deadline.

Disrupting

Weed Life

There is even a social network for the Cannabis enthusiast. Weed Life serves more than 120 countries and helps connect the industry with Cannabis business and news.

You have a timeline, create a business page and participate in discussions and share your Cannabis news.

Vero

No algorithm? No Ads. No problem.

This influencer marketing network is on its way to the tipping point of everything Facebook isn’t and used to be. Vero is about users.

Launched in 2015, the new-ish social network has been quietly growing.

It works similar to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Linkedin with the posting of photos, videos, and updates with a more laid back.

You can customize your connections between close friends, friends, acquaintances, and followers.

Steemit

You’ve most likely heard of Reddit, meet Seemit. It’s a new trending social network where you can actually make money for your content upvotes.

Facecast

It’s the “social video” era we are in. Another video app, Facecast is available in 150 countries and combines the power of live video broadcasts and chats into a mashup.

Byte

Is it Vine 2.0 or something new and blue? Video looping app video platform with a 6.5-second is in the percolation stages, and rumors have it in beta.

Loop into the Twitter handle of Dom Hofman, co-founder of Vine, for progress on Byte.

Trending Honorable Mentions

Some buzzwords in the air worth looking into include:

Docuseries

The art of storytelling mixed with dripping out a series of free content with the intent to bundle it up in one package to sell.

Deepak Chopra gives away his 21-day meditation classes, the only catch – each day is only available for a 24-hour window.

Since most people miss some days at the end of the 21 days of free Deepak sells it in one packaged bundle.

How can you create a docuseries with your content?

Masterminds

If you are an entrepreneur in today’s digital world, your key to scaling and growth could be in the mastermind investment.

Popular ones include the mostly male-dominated War Room by Ryan Deiss to the more female/male balanced Baby Bathwater Institute where you go to a private island or ski lodge to summer camp-like Camp Maverick.

Memberships, Groups, and Funnels

If you have a digital product or service, the business model including memberships, free Facebook Groups, and Secret Facebook Groups and Click Funnels are all the buzz.

PR Podcast Clicks

If you are pitching to be a guest on a podcast, beware!

Most marketing podcast hosts are not in love with PR pros, and they have no problem dishing out the complaints about the spammy pitches.

It seems once you get invited on one, the other inside cliques will welcome you on their show.

Try following the show hosts on Twitter and creating a trusted relationship before any public relations guest pitching starts!

How do you keep up with your social media friends and trends?

Just like Keeping up with The Kardashians, some things are a must-see and some need to be skipped or deleted.

Well, you are now officially a potential trendsetter now that you made it to the end of this post.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Top PPC Tactics Must-Try!!

Top PPC Tactics Must-Try!!

By | Networking Bizz News

If you want your PPC campaigns to remain effective in 2020, you have no choice but to evolve. In some cases, that evolution will mean thinking about things very differently than before.

If your program isn’t in an advanced state already, here are ten tactics you must try this year (in no particular order).

1. Layered Audience: Demographics & Affinity:

It’s no secret that a campaign will perform best when you clearly define who it’s meant for.

By using the combined power of Google Ads and Analytics, you’re able to give your campaigns a better chance of success by targeting those most likely to take the desired action. I look at demographics and affinity as a more of a passive “who they are” classification.

The screenshot below shows current site visitors who fall into the affinity category of “Pet Lovers”. Those specific customers convert 46% better than the average. That’s an audience worth engaging:

Layered Audience

2. Layered Audience: In Market:

While Demographics and Affinity audiences are more about “who they are”, In-Market audiences are about “what they’re doing”.

In this case, this an audience who is exhibiting certain online behavior consistent with those who are actively “in the market” for a product or service.

Layered Audience: In Market

3. Layered Audience: Life Events:

Anyone who has ever run a Direct Response campaign (even in the pre-digital days) knows that reaching potential customers at key life event stages can be critical to its performance.

If you’ve ever gotten a mortgage (or even just moved to a new address), you’ve probably noticed an increase in the volume of offers you receive. There’s a very good reason for that – data shows it’s effective.

Google Ads allows you to run promotions for specific “life events” on a limited basis today. It’s limited because:

You’re restricted to life events concerning:
  • College graduation.
  • Marriage.
  • Moving.
  • It’s currently available for Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

They launched these targeting capabilities in the last couple of years and hopefully, it will eventually be expanded as a targeting layer for additional events and platforms.

4. Running One Responsive Search Ad (RSA) Per Ad Group:

I know. You tried it and were less than impressed. I get it.

Try it again, but this time on some keywords and audiences that might not be your core focus.

If your campaigns are anything like most, you have some core audiences and set of keyword variations that make up the bulk of the conversions and revenues.

Test RSAs to try and find success outside that core audience. The biggest things to remember:

  • The key word in machine learning is “learning.” In order to “learn” what works, the “machine” also must learn what doesn’t. That takes time and a bit of volume to get a good read.
  • You still need to input some quality headlines (minimum 3, up to 15) and descriptions (minimum 2, up to 4). If those are sub-quality, no amount of machine learning will help your campaigns.

5. Establish a Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS):

This is a Marketing 101 principle that unfortunately even some of the largest companies in the world don’t complete (or at least complete properly).

The automation is now in place to optimize campaigns at scale to a specific CPA or ROAS, but that functionality is useless if you don’t have that figured out (and potentially even worse if you have a CPA or ROAS goal calculated with poor logic).

Is CPA a perfect metric? Nope.

Neither is ROAS.

I have challenges with both when we’re talking about a tactic like text search ads that usually play a role somewhere in the second half of a purchase journey.

Without proper context, CPA and ROAS are very incomplete numbers. However, you can get to a number that’s a reasonable mark for optimizing campaigns to once you take the time and effort to piece together the following:

  • The various marketing campaigns required to take a buyer from pre-awareness to a conversion.
  • The lifetime value of a customer.
  • Your margins.

6. Test Smart Bidding Strategies:

See #5. Once you have that foundational element established, you can begin to let the system “do the grunt work” it takes to get the campaign there.

7. Invest in Microsoft Ads Already, Will You?!?!

Microsoft Ads have come a long, long way since the early days of Bing when a lot of us in PPC treated them like an afterthought that we would “get around to” when we had time and as long they made it easy to copy our AdWords campaigns over.

Of course, there are no guarantees it’ll be effective for your brand, but I’m seeing more consistent success across my account base than I did five years ago.

They even have some features that Google doesn’t (and can’t) have. For more insight on that, check out the recent post from contributor Tim Jensen.

8. Using Google Analytics Data to Execute Remarketing Campaigns:

Are you still remarketing equally to everyone who visits your site?

Are all your site visitors equal?

Of course not!

The example below is from a business that has both an ecommerce and physical retail presence.

A quality visit entering the site on a “store locator” page is an opportunity to present remarketing ads promoting the in-store experience.

Google Analytics Data

9. Report the Store Visits Metric (For Businesses with Brick & Mortar Locations):

While we’re on the subject of brick & mortar, leveraging the Store visits metric available in Google Ads is a great way to gain additional support for your campaigns.

Sometimes the management in the physical stores can feel like digital marketing campaigns are designed more for Ecommerce so it’s great to be able to present this kind of data.

Store Visits Metric

10. Review & (Most Likely) Revise Your Campaign Structure:

A campaign restructure is often one of the first things an experienced PPC pro ends up recommending once an audit is complete.

A poor campaign structure is much like a bad foundation on a house – if that’s in bad shape, not much else matters.

A proper campaign structure has always been important, but it’s absolutely critical if you want to take advantage of the automation capabilities to optimize and scale your campaigns.

In order to let the automation handle the grunt work and get you out of the weeds, you must be very strategic about how you structure the campaigns.

There’s not a handbook on one way correct way to structure a campaign for all types of businesses, but in general, you need to take into account:

  • Geography.
  • Seasonality.
  • Product mix.
  • Core terms.
  • Budget ownership.
  • Your ability/bandwidth to manage it all.

Proper setup requires a lot of heavy lifting but will pay the dividends of a long shelf life and program scalability.

Ironically, this last recommendation is something you’ll likely need to do before you can find success with the earlier ones.

Final Word

Trying these tactics will not guarantee success and I’m certain there will be additional “Must Try” PPC features this year that will make sense for your campaigns.

If you haven’t tried the tactics from this post in your campaigns yet, try using this list as a checklist and track your progress. Good luck!

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Essential Google Analytics Reports for PPC Marketers

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

It’s easy to have a love/hate relationship with Google Analytics reports.

On one hand, it presents every single of piece of information needed at one’s fingertips.

On the other hand, it’s even easier to go down a rabbit-hole when presented with too much information.

As marketers, we only have so much time in a day.

We are tasked with moving quicker and making faster decisions.

When making strategic decisions in PPC campaigns, these five reports help get me information faster.

My favorite go-to Google Analytics reports will help:

  • Expand audience targeting in PPC campaigns.
  • Expand PPC keyword selection.
  • Create additional converting Display Placement audiences.

1. Interest: In-Market Segments Report:

With the recent update of Google’s match types, close variations have taken over campaigns.

As a result, targeted keywords are more loosely managed.

Because of this, the importance has shifted to understanding the behavior of our target audiences.

This report in Google Analytics shows exactly that.

To find this Google Analytics report, navigate to: Audience > Interests > In-Market Segments.

In-Market Segments Report

This report shows the types of In-Market segments (for Google Ads) of users who have been on your website and purchased.

The key features of this report include:

  • Segment by past purchasers to understand how these In-Market segments behave.
  • Sort by highest revenue or conversion rate.
  • Layer these converting audiences into PPC campaigns.
  • Create new campaigns targeting these users.

2. Site Search Report:

This report is useful for many reasons aside from PPC.

By utilizing this Google Analytics report, you can understand how users are searching to find what they need on the website.

By using Site Search, it can help inform keyword strategy or expand keyword list based on real user behavior.

You’d be surprised how large of a gap there can be of how we feel a user searches vs. how they actually search.

The Site Search report can also help the overall branding team to understand if there are gaps in products offered.

For example, say you have a wedding invitations website that has a decent product assortment for different themes.

When using the Site Search report, there is an influx of searches for “rustic” – but none of the website designs have that rustic feel!

This can inform product marketing that there is a demand for this type of product.

Now, you’re on your way to expanding product assortment to meet a user’s needs.

A win-win for everyone!

To find this report, navigate to: Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms

Site Search Report

3. Referrals Report:

This report is highly underrated.

The Referrals report shows the top websites that have sent traffic to a website and if a user eventually purchases.

To find this report, navigate to: Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals

Referrals Report

By analyzing this report, you can get a better understanding of how users are finding the brand.

To take it one step further:

  • Create a list of top referral websites.
  • Create a “Placements” audience for a Display campaign in Google Ads.

This is a great way to expand PPC efforts responsibly because the referral websites that are known to have quality traffic to your website.

4. Top Conversion Paths:

As marketers, we often get asked how “Top of Funnel” campaigns are doing.

Leadership wants to make sure the dollars are being sent efficiently – and rightfully so.

This Google Analytics report helps analyze and understand “Top of Funnel” behavior.

Because YouTube and Display campaigns have different goals and objectives than Search campaigns, having a holistic view of how long it takes a user to eventually make a purchase after seeing one of these ads is beneficial.

With this report, I recommend the following:

  • Sort by “Source/Medium” path.
  • Add a secondary dimension of “Campaign Path”.
  • Filter by “CPC” and also “Campaign Name” specific to the YouTube or Display campaigns in question.

To find this report, navigate to: Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths

Top Conversion Paths

In the example above, we found that our YouTube campaigns were generating not only assisted conversions, but direct transactions as well.

By providing clear evidence, we were able to support the ask for additional dollars in Upper Funnel tactics.

Another win-win for all parties involved!

5. Geo-Location Report:

This one may be a no-brainer, but surprisingly an overlooked report that can help your PPC performance.

Oftentimes, once a target location is set, we let it sit.

Location performance is an easy setting to overlook.

If campaigns are performing well, what’s the point of changing anything, right?

Wrong!

The Locations report will show top users by city, but also revenue and conversion rate.

This is a crucial step in optimizing and maintaining performance in PPC campaigns.

What I typically look for is the ratio of users by area vs. the amount of revenue and conversion rate in that same area.

If there is a large influx of users in a state but low revenue, do I want to continue to spend money in a place that’s not converting?

Of course not!

Consider bidding down on those areas or potentially exclude them altogether.

To find this report, navigate to: Audience > Geo > Location

Geo-Location Report

In the example above, I see that New York has the highest amount of sessions, as well as highest amount of overall revenue and high conversion rate.

This indicates that I should, at minimum, test increasing bids in that area because of historical high performance.

I may decide to test increasing bids in the top 10 areas that convert overall.

Use this report as a guide to cross-reference where your PPC campaigns are showing to users and if there are gaps in performance.

Simple optimizations such as location bid adjustments can make significant impacts over time in PPC performance.

Conclusion:

Do I look at these reports every day or every week?

Honestly, no.

The Google Ads platform has built out its own additional robust reporting features and when I’m making daily and weekly optimizations, I have a lot of useful information at my fingertips there.

By utilizing these five Google Analytics reports on a monthly or quarterly basis, performance can be looked at from a holistic view.

It’s always important to take a step back from the “day to day” optimizations in Google Ads to have a better understanding of how PPC fits into overall channel performance.

By reviewing other reports not necessarily made for PPC, you’ll have the upper-hand in making strategic improvements that can supercharge your campaign performance.

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Top Content Marketing Skills Must-Have!

By | Networking Bizz News

In a world of ad blockers and AI automation, content marketing is essential to your marketing plan.

For example, the number of people using ad blockers has risen by 10% in six years. No matter how much you spend on your paid advertisements, there’s a 26% chance your target audience won’t even see them.

Voice search is growing. To date, there are 4.08 million voice assistants in use worldwide. This means users can get answers to their online queries without even visiting a website. In the future, the only content people will read is authority content written by experts.

So, now it’s time to focus all your energy on content marketing!

But wait…

Not so fast.

Because there’s content marketing that works. And there’s content marketing that doesn’t.

To achieve the former, you first need to master the right content marketing skills for success.

What are these skills?

The Top Content Marketing Skills to Learn for Greater Brand Success:

The good news is you don’t need a special degree or inborn talent to master these 10 essential content marketing skills. All you need is to know what these skills are and to practice until you’ve mastered them.

Let’s get started!

Skill 1: Detective Work – Digging Up Facts About Your Audience:

No matter how compelling your content is, you won’t convert anyone if you don’t know exactly who you’re speaking to.

For instance, look at this content from Vixen Daily’s email campaign.

Detective Work

The email holds enticing promise to readers who want to move on after a breakup. But what makes it compelling isn’t fancy wording or clever phrases. It’s simply that Nick Bastion knew his audience’s pain and need before writing it.

When you know your audience intimately, producing content they’ll devour becomes easy.

Here are a five powerful ways to put on your detective’s cap and dig up clues about your audience:

  • Use Google Analytics to find out who’s visiting your website. Analytics gives you information like the names, ages, and genders of your site visitors.
  • Go on Quora or Reddit and research topics around your niche. What are people saying? What are their fears/desires/dreams? Reading what they talk about will help you understand them on a deeper level.
  • Take note of how users respond to your content. With a tool like BuzzSumo, you can learn how people are reacting to what you write. Analyze your top engaged posts and discover what made them appealing to your audience.
  • Offer surveys (with incentives like free downloads – a mini e-book or cheat sheet work great).
  • Engage with people in the comment section of your blog. Listen to what they’re saying and respond personally and directly.

Remember, speaking to your audience should be like conversing with a friend. The better you know this friend, the more personal and appealing your message will be.

Skill 2: The Art of Subject Matter Expert Interviewing:

To write amazing content, you need to be an expert on your topic.

Does this mean you need to enter medical school to write a blog about health issues and treatments?

Not necessarily. When you master the art of conducting subject matter expert interviews, you can produce authority content even if you don’t have a degree in the niche you write in.

But you can’t just jump into an interview with an expert and ask any question that comes to your mind. Remember, the value of the information you get depends on the quality of your questions.

Here are five tips to make your interviews seamless and value-rich:

  • Be prepared. You don’t want to come to an interview with absolutely no idea on the topic. Rather, you want the interview to be a deep dive into the topic. So, before you call your SME (Subject Matter Expert), do as much research as you can. From your research, make a list of questions you can’t find the answers for online.
  • Skip the dead air with open-ended questions. You want your SME to gush over the topic. You want them to feel excited. To do that, whet their appetite with unusual questions. For instance, instead of asking, “Is your profession inspiring?” you can ask, “Can you give me some facts most people don’t know about your profession?”
  • Bring your content outline with you when you interview. Asking a bunch of random, unrelated questions wastes time. To avoid this, base your questions on the outline you prepare for your content. This will help you ask specific, driven questions you can use in your writing. For instance, if you’re going to interview a psychiatrist about Bipolar disorder, it’s best to skip questions about other types of mental illness.
  • Record your conversation. Later on, you’ll want to go back over the exact words your SME said during the interview. Also, keeping busy catching up with notes will distract you from what the SME is saying in the moment.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification. If there’s something you don’t understand during the interview, ask! This can open doors for an even deeper dive into the topic.

When you approach interviews with a genuine passion for your topic, there’s nothing you can’t dig up from the experts’ knowledge banks.

Skill 3: Writing Each Piece of Content with a Goal in Mind:

Writing random content wastes time without doing much for your brand. What you need to do is attach a specific goal to every single piece you write.

For instance, look at this sales copy from AWAI.

Writing Each Piece of Content with a Goal in Mind

The lead is interesting and informative, but this piece has a main goal: to compel readers to buy the How to Make Money as a Social Media Expert course at half its usual price.

Remember, goals aren’t only specific to selling products or services. For instance, you can write a lead magnet to grow your email list. You can write an email series with links to different blogs on your website.

You can write an authority blog to gain your audience’s trust. And so on. The secret is to determine the goal of every single piece of content you write.

Skill 4: Knowing How to Stand Out:

Your goal is to compel your audience to read your content instead of your competitor’s. How do you do that? By providing content you can’t find anywhere else online.

Here’s how to come up with this content:

  • Spy on your competition. What are they doing right? What’s missing in their content that you can add to yours?
  • Present content uniquely. Your content can be similar to what your competitors are saying (because who can change facts?), but if you package it differently, it’ll always look like something new.
  • Develop your own personal style. You’ll be surprised to find how many people will keep reading what you write because of the way you write it. For instance, maybe you take technical subjects like best SEO practices and write about them in a way that’s fun, engaging, and easy-to-follow. People will read your blog instead of blogs packed with jargon and long paragraphs of text.

Remember, though, not to go too far with uniqueness. Sometimes, there’s a reason why your competition isn’t doing something.

Skill 5: Keyword Research Savviness:

Keywords don’t only help you rank higher on Google, they act as the spine of your content. Keywords direct what you say and allow you to stay relevant with what people want to read.

So, how do you choose keywords to use in your content?

  • Go for long-tail keywords. For example, instead of choosing “dress,” go for “Walt Disney princess dresses for kids.” Keywords like this help direct quality traffic to your site.
  • Choose low competition keywords. If you go for a keyword like “shoes,” you’ll find yourself up against content from huge brands like Adidas and Nike. As a rule of thumb, go for keywords with a score below 50.
  • It’s OK to select a keyword with low search volume. As long as there are people searching for this keyword, creating content around it will get you results.
    To help you find the best keywords for your content, you can use tools like KWFinder and SEMrush.

Skill 6: Looking Ahead – Planning Content Way Ahead of Time:

You don’t want to wake up one morning panicking because you have to produce content but have no idea what to write. To avoid this, create a content calendar.

For example, here’s what Buffer’s content calendar looks like.

Looking Ahead

With a content calendar, you’ll avoid problems like repetitive content and stay up-to-date with events like holidays and special occasions.

Always remember, however, to leave room for spontaneity. For example, if a relevant question from one of your followers suddenly pops up on your Twitter account, why not address it at length in a blog?

Skill 7: The Ability to Repackage Content:

The goal above begs the question, “How on earth can I come up with enough new topics to fill an entire calendar?”

The good news is you don’t have to. You can take older content you produced and simply repackage it.

For instance, you can take a 3,000-word guide and turn it into three separate blog posts. You can turn those three posts into videos.

You can take the sub-headers in a long blog and turn each one into a separate post. You can update an old post with new stats and tips.

The key is to be creative. In no time, you’ll have enough content to flood your yearly content calendar!

Skill 8: Optimizing for Voice Search & AI:

As mentioned earlier, voice search is a major trend to watch out for. If your content isn’t optimized for voice search, chances are low Google will choose it to answer a searcher’s query.

So, what are the best practices to follow when optimizing for voice search?

Here are a few:

  • Use whole questions instead of phrases. According to Google, 41% of people imagine themselves talking to a friend when addressing their voice assistants. When addressing friends, we don’t go “Hey Bert…restaurant near me.” Instead, we use question phrases with words like where, when, which, and how. Use whole questions in your content to optimize it for voice search.
  • Structure your content to be featured in snippets. With voice search, users no longer need to click through to a website to get questions answered. Google will find the answer for them via their voice assistant. The good news is the answer they get can come from your site. To increase this chance, divide your content into relevant H2s and H3s and use your keywords in them. Also, use numbered and bulleted lists.

Skill 9: Using Links for Higher Authority & Relevance:

Links are essential to your content. They can:

  • Help Google understand what your site is about by connecting it with high-authority sites in the same niche.
  • Show Google which of your pages are most important (by linking to them).
  • Invite other influencers to link to you (if your content is stellar).

The key to choosing the best links is to analyze them with Alexa’s free tool. If the site ranks below 100,000 it’s good to go to use in content.

Skill 10: Measuring Your Content’s Success:

Attaching metrics to your content will help you determine whether the content is successful or needs improvement. Here are three great ways to measure content success:

  • Email click-through rate. If people are clicking the links in your email series, take note of what makes this series different from others.
  • Bounce rate. Do people leave your site without clicking through to other pages? The rate at which they do so is your bounce rate. If people click away more than 70% of the time, you need to improve your content.
  • Scroll depth. Do people read your introduction and then leave the page? Or do they scroll all the way to the bottom? At what point do they stop reading? When you analyze what’s working and what’s not, you’ll be able to strengthen your content.

Mastering Content Marketing Skills for Your Brand’s Future Success:

Content marketing is powerful, but that’s only if it’s done right.

And doing it right doesn’t mean taking the web by storm with a flood of random blog posts and web pages.

Rather, it’s digging up what your specific audience wants to know. It’s talking to them as a friend, in your own unique way and voice. It’s keeping up with current trends in technology, but only so you can serve your audience better.

When you master these skills, your content strategy will lift you to success in no time.

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Reasons to Use Instagram for Business

Reasons to Use Instagram for Business

By | Social Media News

With more than 25 million Instagram business accounts and more than $7 billion spent on Instagram advertising last year, it’s clear that brands are investing in this channel.

Others, however, remain on the sidelines, and one of the chief reasons is that they (incorrectly) believe they have nothing to post.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Whether you’re a trendy B2C company or a traditional B2B company, there’s a place for you on the ‘gram.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your business doesn’t have anything visually interesting to post.

With a little creativity and strategic planning, you’ll find there’s plenty you can post on Instagram.

Here are nine reasons you should use Instagram as a business, no matter what your industry is.

Customers Expect It:

Customers will search for you on Instagram.

They might search for you specifically by name, or by hashtags relating to your business or location.

Either way, not finding you is a bad experience.

Even if you don’t plan to be incredibly active on Instagram, the best practice is to create an account that, at the very least, has your business name, contact information, and a few posts to showcase your brand.

In any case, you don’t want that search to come up empty – or, even worse, lead them to a competitor.

It’s a Trust Signal:

Having an Instagram account – especially a verified Instagram account – is one more signal that your business is reputable, real, and transparent.

If you’re doing online business exclusively, having yet another social account where your customers can get to know your business is highly valuable.

Your Customers & Users Can Tag You:

Let’s say you offer a client exceptional service, or a customer is over-the-moon about a product they just bought from you.

It’s highly possible they’ll take to Instagram to share the story, and their glowing review is gold.

That’s the kind of thing you definitely want to be tagged in so that it can show up on your Instagram account.

But here’s the thing – if you don’t have an Instagram account to begin with, the customer will never be able to tag you and it’s a huge missed opportunity.

You Can Tag and Sell Your Products:

If you sell products, the ability to share Instagram photos and videos that link directly to those products is a major win.

To take advantage of this feature, you need to create a product catalog from your Facebook page (that’s where Instagram pulls the product info from).

Point Back to Your Site:

It isn’t just products you can showcase from your Instagram account – it’s also your white papers, infographics, blog posts, and any other content you post on your website.

Instagram is one more social channel where you can drive traffic back to your site.

You can toggle sharing to Facebook or Twitter on directly from Instagram, as well, or use a social dashboard that lets your post the same message to different social channels with a couple of clicks.

Online Reputation Management:

When it comes to online reputation management and search engine optimization for your brand name, having an Instagram account is a must-do.

Your online reputation is critical to your business, and for that reason, you have to be vigilant about what comes up when customers search for your business or brand’s name.

In addition to your website, your social channels usually show up on the first page of the search engine results, as well.

For that reason, it’s a best practice to create business accounts on all social networks (including Instagram) with your brand name, even if you don’t plan on using them frequently.

The idea here is to control the search engine results page as much as you can by creating profiles and content that points back to your brand.

That way, in the event you do get bad publicity online, your website and social accounts have a fighting chance to rank above any negative content.

Your Competitors Are on Instagram:

If you don’t have an Instagram account and your competitors do, you’re giving them a competitive edge, plain and simple.

If you’re stumped on what kind of content to post to Instagram, look at what your competitors are doing.

It’ll give you plenty of inspiration for what you can do, too!

Networking:

Instagram is also a useful networking tool.

You can like, comment and send messages to other like-minded businesses or individuals and form a relationship with them over time with meaningful interactions.

That way, if you ever want to reach out to them in the real world or run into them at an event, you’ll have already laid a foundation on Instagram.

You Can Attract Talent:

Whenever people are considering working with or for a new company, they want to know what it’s really like.

Giving them a transparent glimpse of behind-the-scenes moments on Instagram (and social media in general) is a great way to show off your company culture.

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Ways to Create Your Best SEO Content This Year!!

Ways to Create Your Best SEO Content This Year!!

By | seo advice for business

2020 presents many new and exciting opportunities to master your content and reach a wider audience.

While the BERT algorithm update gave a not-so-subtle nod to the importance of search intent, SEO content writers everywhere were not surprised to hear that the search engine is prioritizing audience-focused content.

The issue, then, has been the over-emphasis on keyword-rich content, which has mainly resulted in poor user experience and, ultimately, lower conversions.

Therefore, 2020 is all about putting the user first by creating value-rich content. Add in AI and engaging visuals, and you have the perfect cocktail for SEO-friendly, click-worthy content.

Here are my 10 tips for helping you create your best SEO content in 2020 and beyond.

1. Identify Your Ideal Client Avatar:

The concept of defining your ideal client avatar (ICA) is nothing new, but it’s something that is oft overlooked when it comes to content creation.

In order to create content that speaks to your target audience, you have to thoroughly understand who they are, what they want, and what they are searching for online. This will not only inform your keyword research but also how to create content that compels them to take action.

The goal here is to focus on the “favorable characteristics of your best customer” and create a persona that becomes your ICA. With this in mind, you can then answer these questions to create highly-targeted content:

  • What are the top 3 struggles my audience is facing right now?
  • What actions have they taken to overcome these struggles?
  • Why didn’t those solutions work for them?
  • What is their number one goal when it comes to [ SEO, content, marketing, etc. ]?
  • What are they looking for in working with a business like mine?

To get even more precise, you can use these questions in an audience-facing survey (I like to use Google Forms) and use their answers to inform the keywords you target, your calls-to-action, and the language you use in your content.

2. Map Keywords to Search Intent:

Keyword mapping is an important step that involves assigning target keywords to certain pages and posts. And while most SEO professionals factor this into their process, it’s not uncommon for the search intent factor to be left on the backburner.

In 2020, we want search intent to be front and center. This is the best way to create content that highly relevant to the mapped keywords.

Map Keywords to Search Intent

For example, let’s assume that you want to rank for “Thailand travel guide”. Keyword mapping based on search intent would mean deciding whether it’s a better fit to assign this keyword to a “Complete Guide to Travel in Thailand” blog post, or a webpage describing your travel guide services.

Do a Google search for your keyword and you will see what kinds of results come up. If the searcher’s intent is to learn more about travel in Thailand – not hire a travel guide – then you’ll want to go the blog post route.

The important thing to remember here is that you shouldn’t shoehorn a keyword into your content just because you want to rank for it.

Consider what the searcher is trying to find or accomplish in searching that keyword, and then create content that’s tailored to that.

3. Become a Topic Expert:

Fluffy content might have had its place in 2019 (hardly), but 2020 is all about E-A-T and creating that value-packed content.

Now, “value” is one of those words that is hard to define and perhaps overused in the marketing space. But, really, value just means providing the solution your target audience is looking for. It’s relative – and it takes a topic expert to get it right.

For instance, you could pay a lawyer to write a blog post about “What is SEO?”, but they are likely to miss some important points, nuances, and “isms” that make the content click with an audience that is looking to learn SEO.

Further, having some credentials behind your name is likely to give your content even more validity and help you build trust with your audience.

Therefore, the best way to create your very best content is to write what you know – or hire a pro who can write well-research content for you.

4. Increase Brand Authority Through Guest Posting:

Most SEO professionals know that guest posting can be a great way to attract high-quality backlinks. But are you using guest posting to build your brand authority as well?

If not, you could be missing out on some lucrative opportunities.

Even if you don’t get a followed link back to your site, writing for the right publications can help you stand out in your niche and thus attract new clients.

Look for sites and blogs whose readership aligns with your target audience, and whose social following could generate some traffic for your brand. Don’t miss out just because you don’t see backlink potential.

Further, you can hire a ghostwriter to write expert-level content that puts your brand on the map and establishes you as an authority in your space. This can generate massive returns, even beyond what you would get from a few backlinks.

5. Take a Multi-Channel Approach:

If Gary Vee has taught me anything, it’s that being omnipresent is a great way to reach a wider audience and generate buzz for your brand.

I mean, that guy is everywhere – Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even TikTok.

Take a Multi-Channel Approach

Now, there are only so many hours in a day and not everyone can afford a team that circulates content around the clock.

But there are some tips we can pick up from Gary Vee’s content marketing strategy:

Reduce

Vayner Media does a great job of breaking dense content out into bite-size chunks to be marketed across multiple channels.

These bits of content are easy to digest, are highly click-worthy, and do a great job at getting more eyes on your brand.

Re-Purpose

Effective content marketing doesn’t mean having to create fresh content every single day (or, even, every week).

Instead, you can use the same outline for a single piece of content to create content for different platforms.

For example, your latest blog post could easily become a script for your next YouTube video, which you share across social media and send out to your email list.

Or, your step-by-step guide could become a five-day email course you use to move subscribers down your sales funnel.

Re-Cycle

Breathe life into your old content by giving it a revamp and sharing it with a new audience.

Perhaps you have an old blog article that was popular when it first went live, but it got buried deep in your blog.

Upcycle it with new information and share it on social media to drive new traffic to your site.

6. Invest in High-Quality Visuals:

High-Quality Visuals

I know most of you are tired of skimming through dull, image-less content and so am I.

2020 is the year to step up your image game by adding custom graphics, photos, and videos to your content.

The main reason why I encourage people to do this is not because of engagement, but because of the possible consequences for sourcing images from the web.

If you rely on cheap stock photos for your site, your readers may be irked knowing they see those same images elsewhere, and if you accidentally source copyrighted images, you may be in for a big fine (think $200 to $150,000).

Instead, I urge you to fork over the extra cost for custom images or photos.

You can source affordable graphic design from sites like Upwork or Fiverr, or find designers on LinkedIn or Facebook. For instance, I pay about $80 per post to source custom images for my articles.

Finally, the benefits of using SEO-friendly images are well documented.

Give your content a competitive edge by incorporating your own on-brand images, videos, and graphics.

7. Utilize Content Optimization Tools:

You don’t have to be a professional writer to create search engine optimized content, and you don’t have to be an SEO expert to write engaging articles.

You can fill in the gaps with content tools that help you write better and optimize your content the right way.

For SEO professionals, I highly recommend tools like Grammarly, Hemingway Editor, and CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to ensure that your content is user-friendly, engaging, and click-worthy.

For writers, I suggest Surfer SEO, Text Tools, and/or PageOptimizer Pro to make sure your content is keyword-rich and optimized.

Use these content tools to your advantage when it comes to writing audience-friendly content that actually ranks.

8. Be Receptive to Audience Input & Feedback:

Most SEO pros will herald the benefits of “value-based content” or “audience-focused” content, but what does this actually mean.

The fact is, what’s considered “valuable” is difficult to qualify.

That’s why an essential part of my content writing process is collecting input from my target audience through audience surveys.

I use these to ask my audience what blog post topics they’re interested in, what products they like, what trends they are following, and more.

But my process doesn’t stop there. I also use Google Forms and social media surveys to ask my audience how they like my published content and what suggestions they might have for the future.

Through this, I am able to get a read for what they consider valuable and whether I have actually hit the mark.

This is a humbling approach that ensures that you are providing content that’s relevant to your readers, not just content you think they want to read.

9. Ride the Rave of Trending Topics:

We all know how frustrating it can be to try and rank for a competitive keyword, just to be squeezed out of the SERPs by high-authority sites.

Is it possible to outrank big-name sites?

Yes – if you learn to “ride the wave.”

Ride the Rave of Trending Topics

Staying on top of the latest trends and creating content that targets those high-traffic keywords can be a great way to outrank even the biggest sites.

Since the nature of a trend is that it tends to be short-lived, you may not generate long-term traffic through this approach, but you can see a surge in traffic overnight.

Consider that “Taylor Swift” was trending (according to Google Trends) right around the time that her new documentary dropped.

Say, if you were an entertainment blogger, you could have hopped on this trend by reviewing her latest doc, even ahead of major publications.

The key is to put a twist on a trend to make it relevant to your niche and audience. For example, some ideas might include:

  • Reviewing a new NFL player’s contract to discuss the importance of contract law (lawyers).
  • Writing an article on “how to break the internet” with your marketing, following Kim Kardashian’s Paper cover (writers).
  • Publishing “What Super Bowl LIV Commercials Can Teach Us About Marketing” (marketers).
  • Releasing a travel guide that covers “coronavirus advisory information” that helps people stay safe while traveling abroad (travel bloggers).

Obviously, I would not recommend getting too political or controversial – unless that fits with your brand – or else you risk angering or alienating your audience.

Keep it light, keep it helpful, and make sure it aligns with the rest of your content on your site.

10. Build & Engage Your Email List:

There are many ways that email marketing can amplify your SEO results – my favorite of which is its ability to supplement evergreen post traffic on autopilot.

By growing and engaging your email list, you can direct users to new content on your site through email automation tools.

Convert Kit and Mailchimp are just two examples of email marketing tools that can help you grow your email list and generate more traffic and leads.

A huge perk of investing in email marketing is that you own your list; if anything were to happen to your site or social media channels, you can always remarket to your subscribers.

Use content upgrades like free checklists and other downloadable to convert readers into subscribers. Then, get set up with an email automation platform and hire an email copywriter to write high-converting email campaigns.

Build & Engage Your Email List

Further, segmentation will allow you to nurture sets of subscribers until they are primed to buy the offer that’s most relevant to them.

In the example above, I launched a last-minute Super Bowl flash sale, and with a single email, got one conversion within 10 minutes which resulted in a $1000 content project.

Create Your Best SEO Content Ever This Year:

I’m excited to see what new content trends pop up in 2020. In the meantime, we all can take action on what we know and apply these data-driven strategies to our content.

Use these tips and tricks to create high-value, high-converting content that gets your website noticed online.

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Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO

Definitive Guide to Mobile SEO

By | seo advice for business
Mobile phones have become an integral part of our everyday life.

Whenever you need to find any question you don’t know the answer to, or get more information on a certain matter, you pull out your phone, pop open your browser, and do a quick search.

Google research has shown that mobile searchers have a higher buyer intent – that means that users who search on a mobile device are much more likely to buy than users who search on a desktop.

Sounds like those are the users you want to target, right?

If you want to convert those mobile searches, you need to be sure your site is visible when mobile users are searching.

In the past, Google’s index was built on desktop sites – so even if you were doing a search on your mobile device, the results were based on what Google indexed from the desktop versions of websites.

Now, Google has switched to a mobile-first index, which means that the spiders are indexing the mobile versions of websites. When you’re doing a search on a laptop or desktop, the results are based on Google’s mobile index.

That’s why mobile SEO has become a vital strategy for continued success.

In this guide, you’ll find out how to make your mobile site rock by leveraging crucial aspects of mobile SEO: from content to UX to technical features and site speed.

1. Mobile SEO vs. Desktop SEO: Similarities & Differences:

Mobile SEO and desktop SEO have similar approaches, and the goals are usually the same.

Content is a major focus for both types – you’re not destined to rank for a keyword if you don’t have relevant, helpful content related to that keyword.

User experience is also important in both types of SEO – you need to be sure that users can easily navigate your content and find what they need quickly.

Performance is also a universal focus – no one’s going to buy from you if your site loads like you’re on AOL in 1995.

With desktop SEO, you’re typically focusing on the web at large – the general public.

You’re optimizing for particular keywords, but there’s no geographic focus.

Mobile SEO, in turn, usually focuses on local search, since mobile searches are inherently local.

Google knows your customers’ location when they’re searching, and with mobile devices, you’re trying to reach them at the right time.

2. Responsive Site & Content:

The type of mobile site you’ve got is important.

You need your site to play nicely with the mobile spiders.

Google recommends a responsive site – and that’s definitely the way to go.

A responsive site means that the code is written so that the site structure is fluid. It’s just one site, but it readjusts its content to look one way on mobile and another on desktop.

Since you’ve only got one set of site files, you don’t have to do any additional SEO work or worry about missing content on the mobile version of your site.

But still, everyone designs their pages for desktop users – whether we’re talking about layout, graphics, videos, or content creation – and no thought is put into what the page looks like on a smartphone screen.

Flip the direction in your head, think mobile first!

When you’re designing content for your site, you should make sure that it looks good on mobile screens.

Check your Google Analytics – almost every site gets more mobile traffic (up to 80%) than desktop. And if most of your traffic is coming from mobile users, that means most of your conversions happen on a mobile device.

Instead of simply relying on the responsive code to rearrange contents for you, learn CSS – it’s really not hard at all – so you understand how the responsive code works and can get the page rocking on mobile.

3. Technical Aspects of Mobile SEO:

Now let’s look at the technical aspects of mobile SEO.

When you optimize the SEO elements on a page, you should start with title tags, H1 headings, content, image alt text, URLs, and meta descriptions, just as you would doing standard SEO on your desktop site.

Pay special attention to your title tags and meta descriptions.

Mobile search results pages don’t display as much information as desktop SERPs, so your titles and descriptions will be truncated to a much shorter length.

Use those marketing skills to write shorter, more compelling titles and descriptions, so you’ll make a better impression when you show up in mobile searches.

It’s critical that you don’t block CSS or JavaScript. Older devices didn’t support CSS or JavaScript, so it was common practice to block them – less code ensured faster load speeds.

Now, Google’s spiders want to crawl your site as humans see it. And if CSS and JavaScript are blocked, Google can’t see what your page actually looks like, so you might experience visibility problems.

Make sure you don’t have any popups on your mobile site – they’re incredibly annoying.

Think about what you do when you’re browsing the web. When you get to a site and a giant popup appears, you get frustrated and close it immediately.

Your customers do the same thing.

Make sure you’re using schema markup. You should be using schema anyway, but it’s even more important when you consider the size of mobile screens.

And if you manage to get a rich snippet in search results, you’re even more likely to stand out when people are searching for you.

And finally, never, ever use Flash on your website! If you want your site to have animations or special effects, use HTML5 instead.

4. User Experience:

It’s more convenient to search on a mobile device, but because of that convenience factor, user experience is critical to success.

So let’s talk about the things you should optimize to make your user experience stellar.

One of the most important UX issues on mobile sites is click size.

Whether it’s a menu button or a clickable element, you need to make sure the clickable area is large enough for finger taps.

Along the same line, pay attention to the distance between clicks. If your clickable areas are too close together, users will get frustrated when they can’t click what they’re trying to click.

Frustrated users are bad for business – they’re probably going to bounce.

Make sure your phone number is easy to see and is coded with a click to call link. Far too often, we see sites with unclickable phone numbers.

Why do you have your number on your site?

Because you want customers to call you!

So make things easy for them – add the click to call link.

Make sure your mobile menu is easy to navigate. If you’ve crammed a bunch of buttons into your menu, they’ll stack vertically on mobile, and might not fit on the screen – users will have to scroll to see them all.

If it’s too hard for users to find what they’re looking for, they’re going to bounce and find the answer or the product elsewhere.

Another massive mobile UX headache is forms. Most business owners and marketers don’t put much thought into their mobile forms, thinking that the responsive site solves everything.

The forms need to fit well on the screen, and they need to be easy to use. If the fields are too small, it’s tough to click them to select them.

But the biggest issue of all is the keyboard you use for your forms. There are several mobile keyboards available, and it’s important to connect the right keyboard to each field.

If a user needs to type in their name, you’re cool with the standard keyboard. When the user needs to type in a phone number, set that field to pull up the number keypad instead of the standard keyboard.

It’s a simple code change that will drastically influence the number of form completions you’ll see on mobile.

Font size is also important. Pull up your site on your phone – is it easy to read? Is there enough space between lines?

Don’t try to use a smaller font to squeeze in more content on the smaller screen – in fact, you most likely need to do the opposite. Make it easy to read and your users will be happy.

Make sure you’re serving different image sizes on mobile.

A full-screen image on a desktop is much larger than a full-screen image on a mobile device, so use your website code to serve up different images based on screen size.

Don’t load in huge images that you don’t need to. If you’ve got a slideshow, serve mobile-specific images for it, making sure they fit on the screen of a mobile device.

5. Mobile Site Speed:

Page load speed is a Google ranking factor – and since it’s using a mobile-first algorithm, we know that mobile load speed is what matters.

It’s important, but note that your page load speed is really only going to affect your rankings if you’re in the bottom range.

The extremely slow sites get penalized – but once you’ve got a site that’s loading within a few seconds, shaving another half second off your load time isn’t going to help you rank any better.

It will help you convert more customers, though.

When you’re browsing sites on your phone, there’s nothing worse than going to a site that loads so slowly you feel like you’re going to die.

If that’s the case, your users will bounce and go to your competitors instead.

Most business owners and marketers have heard of Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. It shares incredibly valuable insights into how you can speed up your site, but it doesn’t really tell you how long your site takes to load.

Use it for the suggestions it provides, but opt for another speed testing tool to tell you the actual load time.

Now, we’re going to share eight tips that will help your site to truly rock in terms of page load speed.

  • Find quality hosting. Server response time has a massive effect on your page load speed, so get your site on a host that’s optimized for fast performance. We’ve seen WordPress sites get moved to a better host and the load time is nearly cut in half immediately.
  • Be careful with your site plugins. It only takes a few, especially chat and social media, plugins to slow down your site drastically. If you have any, try disengaging them and testing your “naked” site speed.
  • Prioritize the loading of above-the-fold content. In other words, load what the users see first. Make sure you’re not render-blocking anything above the fold.
  • Optimize your images before you load them. A 3-megabyte PNG file could be converted to a 210-kilobyte jpg image that looks the same on your users’ screens. Imagine how much faster your site will be if you could do that for every image. It’s also important to use responsive code to serve the right image size for the screen being used to view your content.
  • Be careful with redirects. Too many redirects can slow down your site – and so will redirect chains. Only use them if they’re absolutely necessary.
  • Optimize your site code. Make sure your HTML, CSS, and Javascript are clean and without any bloat. Minify the code to compress the files and reduce file size.
  • Use site caching. If you’re unfamiliar with caching, you set the browser to basically remember the site in its final configuration. That way, it can simply display the page without having to load the HTML, apply the CSS, load the images, and then fire off the JavaScript.
  • Use a CDN. CDN stands for Content Delivery Network, and it’s a collection of geographically different locations that serve your content. When a page is requested, its assets are served by the CDN server that’s closest to the user’s location.

6. AMP & Apps:

We can’t talk about mobile page speed without mentioning AMP and PWAs, which are two alternative options for providing faster-loading content for your users.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, which are created with a special coding language that is based on a stripped-down version of HTML and CSS and loads almost instantly.

AMP tends to be mainly for news sites and wouldn’t make much sense for many businesses, as those pages don’t look as appealing as fully designed pages. Even worse, the AMP pages are stored on Google servers, and you get limited analytics data.

If you’re looking for a fast, streamlined user experience, apps are another option. Native apps allow you to do things that aren’t possible on a website.

There’s a bit of a barrier to entry, though – there’s no point in having an app if your customers and potential customers don’t download it.

You’ve also got to get the app approved by the App Store or Google Play.

A progressive web app, or PWA, gives you the best of both worlds. A PWA is a hybrid between a mobile website and an app.

You can download it directly from your browser without going to the App Store (or worrying about App Store approval).

It looks like an app on the user’s phone, but functions basically like a mobile website. PWAs are incredibly fast.

Thanks to data caching, once the PWA has been used one time, users can load and use the app without even being on a network. It can even send push notifications and access other functions on the device – just like native apps.

There’s even a newer hybrid combo of PWAs and AMP, commonly called PWAMP, which are progressive web apps built on AMP pages.

So, should you use one or the other, or any of the options at all?

Each business is different, so there’s no right or wrong answer.

It also depends on your customers and audience, on how users find you, and on how they engage with you once you’ve been found.

7. Optimizing for Local:

Let’s finish up with talking about how to optimize your site for local.

Mobile searches are inherently local. Google knows you’re searching from a mobile device, and if that search has anything to do with local businesses, it’s going to show localized results.

A Google study showed that 76% of users who searched for something nearby visited a related business within 24 hours of searching.

Even better, 28% of those visits resulted in a sale. If you haven’t heard of it before, Local SEO is going to be your new best friend.

You need to be sure your content is localized – it needs to reference the local area, and you should be including your city name in your content.

Don’t stuff the city name in, mention it conversationally. It’s also helpful to write locally focused blog posts – they allow you to talk about specific information about the local area.

You also need to be sure that your NAP information is displayed on every page of your site. NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. Make sure your phone number is click to call.

Your NAP information needs to be marked up with Local Business schema – a type of code that shows Google that you’re a local business.

You should also use local optimization tactics when you’re optimizing the important SEO elements on your pages.

Include your location keyword phrase in your title tag, in your H1, and in your image alt text. Don’t just add it to the end – try to make it conversational.

Most website platforms allow you to customize your URLs, so include your location keywords in your URLs wherever possible.

Finally, include your location keyword in your meta description. It won’t help you with ranking, but since it appears under your blue link when you show up as a search result, it’s helpful to include the location info to boost the likelihood of a clickthrough.

You’ll also want to shift your link building strategy and start targeting links from local businesses. Google’s local algorithm values links from local businesses, even if the authority metrics are lower than what you’re used to seeing.

You’ll need to be sure your Google My Business profile is claimed and fully optimized. It’s a direct interface with Google that allows you to supply specific details about your business, and it’s the first thing customers will see when searching for your business.

Reviews play a big part in the local algorithm as well, so if you haven’t been paying attention to reputation management, it’s time to start working on getting more reviews.

Citations are also important to the local algorithm. Citations are mentions of your NAP information on other websites. Basically, they’re your directory listings.

They’re a foundational Local SEO signal, and Google expects to see the same NAP listed every time it sees your information on another site.

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SEO Going Beyond Google

SEO Going Beyond Google

By | seo advice for business

In the majority of countries in the world, there is a huge emphasis on Google-first SEO.

That is, looking to Google for the latest changes in how to optimize websites and achieve better levels of organic search traffic.

This, however, might not always be the best approach.

There are many other search engines that can help our brands be surfaced to our target audience.

Some of them don’t always spring to mind when we talk about SEO.

The same optimization principles will apply, however.

When working in SEO, we hone our skillset. We become great at understanding our audience. We know their content needs and how they search.

These skills can easily translate to other platforms outside of the traditional web search engines.

Google is not the only web search engine being used.

Google might be the largest search engine in your region. It’s probably the most popular with your demographic.

However, it won’t be the only search engine they are using.

Reasons for Optimizing for Other Search Engines:

There are many reasons why we should look beyond Google for our SEO strategies in 2020. For instance:

Google’s Share of the Market Is Slowly Declining

According to Statista, in April 2012 Google was reported as having a 91.7% share of the international search engine market, whereas in October 2019 that fell to 87.96%.

During that time, Bing’s market share rose from 3.5% to 5.26%.

Ignoring Other Search Engines Could Lead Your Site to Rank Poorly in Them

Just because Google is a dominant player in most markets, it’s not the only one.

Focusing purely on optimizing for Google’s algorithms could mean missed opportunities in other search engines.

Google May Not Be Where Our Target Audience Is Most Engaged

With the rise of privacy concerns there are many people who are opting to stop using Google in favor of sites that are more respectful of users’ data.

If your target demographic is aware of the implications of tracking, data harvesting and advert targeting they may opt for search engines that do not engage in user behavior tracking.

Google is not necessarily the most used search engine for visual searches, or even product searches. Depending on what your audience is looking for might mean they go elsewhere for their searches.

Traditional Search Engines

When talking about search engines, most people can name at least a couple other than Google. Many of those are more traditional, direct competitors to the search giant.

Bing

Microsoft owns Bing. It is not Microsoft’s first attempt at a search engine – Bing’s predecessors included MSN Search and Live Search.

According to Statcounter, Bing held a 2.32% share of the world’s search engine market as of December 2019.

Bing is the default search engine for Microsoft’s Edge browser and Internet Explorer. Because of this, products produced by Microsoft and/or running a Microsoft OS will have Bing as the default search engine.

Although Bing doesn’t have the same market share as Google, there are certain demographics where it is more popular. It has statistically higher usage in some countries than others too.

According to Statcounter Bing holds a 4.14% share of the U.K. search engine market, 4.36% of the Canadian search engine market and a 6.11% share of the U.S. market.

It has considerably less share of the Asian and African search markets.

Like Google, Bing has different search functionality such as Maps, Instant Answers, and flight information.

As of January 2020, brands can set up a brand page in Bing which, according to Bing, “will display a beautiful search results page highlighting the official website, social media pages, and sometimes even the recent social media activities.”

Bing is by no means lagging behind Google in improving its search algorithm. Bing revealed in November 2019 that it had been using BERT in its search results before Google.

Similarities & Differences

Optimizing for Bing is similar to optimizing for Google.

The use of BERT in both algorithms means both search engines are making strides towards better understanding user intent. This means keyword stuffing and poorly written copy is going to do you no favors in Bing.

This means writing authoritative, useful and clear content for your site will be of benefit in Bing’s rankings as it is in Google’s.

Links are also specifically called out in Bing’s webmaster guidelines as being a trust signal. As with Google, manipulation of link-building through link schemes can see you “delisted” from Bing’s results.

Something striking about the difference between Google and Bing is Bing’s wording around the part social media has to play in rankings.

When asked if Google takes social into account for SEO, Google’s webmaster trends analyst Gary Illyes said: “The short version is, no, we don’t”.

This wording of Bing’s statement makes it sound like social shares might be taken into consideration in the rankings.

However, this could easily be in reference to the links that are formed when content is shared. Regardless, having a good social presence and creating share-worthy content is not going to harm your marketing efforts.

Yahoo

Yahoo’s search engine started life as a way to search Yahoo’s directory. Yahoo soon began using other search engines to power its results going from Google to Bing in 2010.

Alongside results from Bing, Yahoo uses its own web crawler “Slurp”. Yahoo’s share of the global search market is 1.59% as of December 2019.

It used to be a more prominent player in the search engine market, however, its popularity has dropped considerably over the years.

Although a small contributor to organic search traffic it should not be ignored.

Thankfully, due to it being powered in part by Bing’s search results, there isn’t really any additional considerations to make when optimizing for Yahoo.

DuckDuckGo

DuckDuckGo is a search engine that was launched in 2008.

It uses information gathered by its own “DuckDuckBot” from over 400 sources including Wikipedia, Bing, and Yahoo.

In February 2019, DuckDuckGo announced that over one billion searches are conducted through its search engine every month.

DuckDuckGo positions itself as a search engine that does not track its users. This is a big contrast to Google and Bing that both provide user data to advertisers.

Due to the lack of tracking, DuckDuckGo does not personalize its search results based on search history. However, this does not stop DuckDuckGo from providing localized searches.

DuckDuckGo offers searching shortcuts called “bangs!” which enable users to search other websites.

For instance, searching “w! search engine optimization” would take you straight through to Wikipedia’s page on search engine optimization.

There is little information from DuckDuckGo itself about what we need to do to rank well in its search results. Mostly, working on the same principles as would be needed to rank well in Google will help.

For a more detailed guide on ranking in DuckDuckGo, see Mindy Weinstein’s excellent article from May 2018.

DuckDuckGo might seem like a small player in relation to Google, however, it is growing.

According to its own statistics, in 2016 DuckDuckGo had 4,086,262,667 queries conducted on its site. In 2019, that number rose to 15,081,213,361.

Ecosia

Ecosia currently claims to have over 15 million users. The search engine differentiates itself from the rest by donating over 80% of its profits to non-profit organizations focused on the environment and planting trees.

Like DuckDuckGo Ecosia also claims to not share searchers’ data.

Bing’s data, other third-party data, and its own algorithms are what powers Ecosia’s search results. As the results are so heavily influenced by Bing, optimizing for that engine should assist with ranking in Ecosia.

Ecosia is popping up in traffic source reports more and more. With the social conscious becoming more aware of human impact on the environment, it would stand to reason that its popularity will increase.

Baidu

With 67% of the search engine market in China as of December 2019, Baidu is the country’s largest search engine. It holds over 80% of the market share of mobile searches.

In some ways optimizing content to rank in Baidu is similar to ranking in Google. However, there are some stark differences.

Baidu uses meta descriptions as a ranking factor and will also strongly favor its own properties in search results. Having a Chinese registered website is also hugely advisable if trying to rank in Baidu.

Content designed to rank in Baidu must be written in Simplified Chinese. Baidu has its own trends platform called “Baidu Feng Yun Bang”. This is a helpful source of new, relevant content ideas.

Yandex

Second only to Google in terms of the search engine market share in Russia is Yandex. Between the two search engines, they hold almost 100% of the market.

Yandex puts emphasis on elements such as keywords in URLs that Google does not. Conversely, Yandex is not as concerned with internal linking structures.

Yandex is slower than Google at finding new content. To get around this issue website owners can use Yandex.Webmaster in a similar way to utilizing Google Search Console.

For a really comprehensive guide on how to rank in Yandex, see Dan Taylor’s 2018 article.

Other Types of Search Engines

Going beyond Google also means looking past traditional search engines as part of our SEO activity. There are a host of other search engines that are used by millions of users each year.

Amazon

SimiarWeb estimates Amazon’s traffic in December 2019 to have reached 2.73 billion. Although primarily considered a portal for shopping, it is essentially a search engine.

Searching on Amazon will bring back a plethora of product listings. Some of these listings are sponsored, others are organically ranked.

Amazon’s searches are keyword based. Therefore, similar keyword research and optimization can be carried out as with the other more traditional search engines.

Amazon’s algorithm will rank products based on relevance and also whether they are likely to sell. The use of keywords in a listing will help with the relevancy. Selling products will help increase their rank.

Amazon will promote products that sell well. This means considering traditional conversion factors like reviews and engaging descriptions to help generate those first sales.

For more detail on how to rank organically in Amazon see Robyn Johnson’s article from August 2019.

YouTube

According to YouTube, it has over two billion users. There is currently less than 7.8 billion people in the world. YouTube is used by over one-quarter of the world’s population. It also claims that one billion hours of video are watched every day through its platform.

YouTube is essentially a keyword-driven search engine. One that dominates the search landscape.

Tags, titles and descriptions can all be set, and optimized, by the video uploader. These will help add relevancy to your videos for the search terms you want them to be found for.

Engagement signals will also affect rankings. Subscriber numbers and likes can impact how well a video will rank in the YouTube search results.

Ranking well on YouTube can help drive brand awareness but also direct visits to your website. For more information on YouTube optimization see Sam Hollingsworth’s helpful tips.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great place to get your brand discovered. Searches are carried out both through keywords and Pinterest’s “Lens”.

Optimizing your pins for keywords will enable Pinterest to serve them to relevant audiences.

The Lens is an interesting development in visual search. By pointing your phone camera at an object when using Pinterest it can serve you related pins.

Visual search is harder to optimize for than text-based searches. It will all come down to how similar the look of your pin is to the object being searched.

For more guidance on Pinterest optimization, see Clark Boyd’s article.

Conclusion

Google is not the only search engine.

Your target demographic might not even be using it.

Although optimizing for the main search engines follows a largely similar pattern, this can deviate significantly in the less traditional engines like Amazon and YouTube.

It’s important to understand where your audience is engaging with content like yours and ensuring you are ranking in those discovery engines.

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How to Beat Big Brands in SEO

How to Beat Big Brands in SEO

By | seo advice for business
Imagine this:

You have a great product or service, and your potential customers are spread out worldwide.

You might literally have customers in every country on the planet.

Filled with unwavering optimism, you kick off your SEO strategy, but you’re hitting wall after wall.

Your site has no technical issues, you have the best content out there, and you’ve gained quite a few backlinks… but you’re still not winning.

It sounds like you’ve picked the wrong fights.

It’s likely you picked a highly competitive market to cater to. And you don’t have the authority to win – not yet.

You’re competing with big brands that are spending millions of dollars a month on digital marketing and have been going at it for over a decade.

Can you beat them?

Yes, but not with this strategy.

You need to rethink it.

They’re Goliath, and you’re David. And you don’t have a slingshot yet.

You need to pick battles you can actually win, and you need to go into battle prepared.

OK, so how do you go about that?

Let’s start at the beginning, and look at some of the weaknesses these big brands have.

Big Brands Aren’t Perfect

First some good news: big brands aren’t perfect.

Speaking from experience, here are some of the weaknesses I often see with big brands:

  • They have a slow decision-making process, because they need to get approval from a variety of stakeholders.
  • They’re not great at executing SEO- and content-marketing strategies due to internal politics and the number of people involved.
  • Their sites are running on legacy platforms, and sometimes they’re even dealing with prolonged code freezes.

Play to Your Strengths

As a smaller player, you may not have a massive budget or a big team of seasoned digital marketing specialists, but you do have some powerful advantages:

  • Gait: you’re fast and flexible; you don’t have to get your ideas approved by many layers of management. If you come up with a great idea, you can have it online the same day.
  • Grit: it’s likely that your determination to beat these bigger brands is much stronger than the other way around, as these bigger brands are already in a comfortable position. A smaller brand has little to lose and everything to gain.
  • Guts: you don’t have to get legal sign-off for every campaign you’re going to run. You can run much more provocative campaigns.

In summary, smaller brands have everything to gain, can run daring campaigns, and can execute much faster than bigger brands because there’s nothing holding them back.

Find Topics to Rank for in Markets with Strong Competition

Even within markets where you’re facing strong competition, you can find topics to rank for that haven’t yet been covered by your competition.

Disregard all the “usual suspects” and aim to find long-tail topics that are easily missed because they seem not to be worth pursuing.

Google Trends is highly useful here. Use it to keep an eye on emerging trends within your space and, as soon as you spot a trend, publish content around that topic.

See how that content performs. If you find it getting a lot of traction, write some more.

Creating a High Barrier to Entry

When you find low-competition topics that you can rank for, make sure your content is the best out there.

That is: make sure it looks awesome, it’s complete, and you have all your bases covered.

Go above and beyond to make sure your content is the best out there, creating a high barrier to entry for competitors.

Look Beyond Your Domestic Market

In markets where big brands don’t have a strong presence, it’s a level playing field, and you actually have a good chance at beating them.

I’d always recommend that smaller brands first create a business case as well to justify entering certain markets, but as a smaller brand, you can go through this process 10 times faster than bigger brands. That also means you can exit it quickly.

Find markets that are accessible to you where the competition doesn’t have a strong presence, and test the waters. If you see potential, invest more and take it from there.

Here are the advantages of entering these markets:

  • In low-competition markets, you can enjoy exceptionally high growth.
  • You can grow unnoticed, as competitors are all busy fighting each other for that massive market everyone’s pursuing.

You can take the competition head-on at a later time after you’ve built up enough authority and momentum, if you choose to.

Low-competition markets sound interesting, but how do you find them?

By doing old-fashioned desk research, and by using the data you already have.

Finding High-Potential Markets Through Desk Research

Map out all the markets you can cater to, and research the competition within those markets.

If the competition from big brands is low, then look further: are there lots of successful local players you don’t have an edge over?

If so, leave that market. If not, put it on your list.

Here’s an example of my own:

I work at an SEO platform called ContentKing. Worldwide, there are hundreds of SEO platforms, but in the Netherlands, there’s literally only a handful of them.

And none of the big players have localized their platforms into Dutch. It doesn’t make sense for them to do that, and that gives us an edge.

Is the Netherlands easily accessible to us? Yes (part of our team is Dutch).

Is it a massive market? No.

Is it big enough to make it worth our while? For sure!

Finding High-Potential Markets Based on Real Data

If you already have data about where your customers like your offerings, use that to your advantage.

Look within your analytics platform to see what markets convert well, and investigate whether you can grab a bigger market share there.

Example: one of our ContentKing customers, a bicycle seller, saw they were getting a lot of orders from Australia for certain bicycle types.

After some research, they found these customers preferred Dutch bicycles over any other bicycles and would gladly pay the extra shipping fee. They increased their focus on this market, and it turned into a real money-maker.

Finding Topics to Rank for Within These High-Potential Markets

I’ve found that simply creating localized versions of the same content that works well in highly-competitive markets goes a long way in these high potential markets.

This lets you rank quickly as there’s less competition, and because there’s less competition, having the best content is quickly within your grasp.

Conclusion

As a smaller player, you stand a chance against bigger brands if you pick your battles wisely.

Leverage your strengths and take advantage of bigger brands’ weaknesses to quickly grow your business, so that you can take them head-on someday in the future.

Focus on ranking for topics that others aren’t focused on, and look beyond your domestic market.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Biggest Social Media Sites

Biggest Social Media Sites

By | Social Media News

All social media networks are not created equally.

While Instagram might be a powerhouse for one brand, it’ll do nothing for another – and while one business might have tons of engagement on Facebook, another business will gain more traction on LinkedIn.

With that in mind, how do you choose where to invest your time (and potentially ad spend)?

The best move is to have at least a presence on each of the major platforms, and from there, strategically choose which ones to double down on.

We’re going to take a look at each of the seven major social media platforms in our social media guide: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Reddit.

You’ll also gain insights into what content succeeds on each platform and get actionable tips to take your own social media marketing to the next level.

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at each of these networks at a glance.

1. Facebook

  • Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
  • Founded: 2004
  • Active Monthly Users: 2.45 billion

This OG social media network is tried and true, and no matter your industry, there’s a space for you on Facebook.

Some of the leading industries on Facebook include financial services, ecommerce, retail, gaming, entertainment, media, telecom, technology, consumer goods, and automotive businesses.

While the News Feed increasingly suppresses business posts, there are still ways to bolster engagement without investing in ads.

Consider joining (or creating) groups, using a Facebook Messenger chatbot, or using live video to up your engagement.

2. Twitter

  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Founded: 2006
  • Active Monthly Users: 330 million

Fast and sometimes furious, certain businesses really thrive on Twitter.

If your business is related to entertainment, sports, politics, or marketing, you stand to earn tremendous engagement on Twitter.

On Twitter, brands have an opportunity to craft and hone their voice – there’s room to be clever and personable in addition to informative and helpful.

Jump into threads, provide value, share your own content as well as others, and join the nonstop conversation.

3. LinkedIn

  • Headquarters: Mountain View, CA
  • Founded: 2003
  • Active Monthly Users: 310 million

Within its massive network of professionals, you’ll find more than 61 million users in senior positions on LinkedIn.

If you’re looking for decision makers who have the power to hire your company, stock your product, or partner with you, LinkedIn is the place to be.

Did you know that 44% of LinkedIn users have an income above the national median? Or that more than 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn?

It might not be the flashiest social media network, but there’s unlimited potential for connecting with an elite group of professionals who can make a difference for your business.

4. Instagram

  • Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
  • Launched: 2010
  • Active users: 1 billion

Instagram is a smorgasbord of eye-catching visuals and inspiring creativity.

It’s also a social network where product-based businesses, influencers, and coaches can thrive.

Since introducing shoppable posts in 2018, the potential ROI for product-based businesses is higher than ever – not only can B2B’s connect with a massive audience, they can link the product information and sales straight from the ‘gram.

If your target demographic is under 35, Instagram is a gold mine: 63% of users are between the ages of 18 to 34, with virtually even split between male and female users.

5. Snapchat

  • Headquarters: Los Angeles, CA
  • Founded: 2011
  • Active Monthly Users: 360 million

If your target demographic is young, you definitely want to get in on Snapchat.

The most active users are Snapchat are 13-year-olds, and they’re spending upwards of 30 minutes a day on the app.

Snapchat is a haven for user-generated content, behind-the-scenes videos, exclusive offers, and influencer takeovers.

6. Pinterest

  • Founded: 2010
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Active Monthly Users: 322 million

Some of the most popular content on Pinterest includes fashion, food, decor, wedding, workout and DIY-related pins.

In addition, anything with rich visual can thrive on Pinterest.

Notably, 81% of Pinterest users are female – if you have a predominantly female audience, that’s a compelling reason to invest time in social media marketing on Pinterest.

That’s not to say that men aren’t on Pinterest.

In fact, 40% of new Pinterest signups are male.

7. Reddit

  • Founded: 2005
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Active Monthly Users: 430 million

Reddit heralds itself as “the front page of the internet.”

According to Alexa rankings, Reddit is one of the top 20 most-visited sites.

Reddit has a unique blend of content and community, with more than 150,000 communities dedicated to every topic imaginable.

With so many niches, there’s a place for every brand and business – it’s a matter of finding the niches where your potential customers are active and diving in.

  • [Video Recap]

 

 

Essential Steps to Creating a Robust Digital Strategy

Essential Steps to Creating a Robust Digital Strategy

By | Networking Bizz News

Looking to stay ahead the digital marketing curve?

Discover the planning must-haves for search, digital, voice, and omnichannel strategies in 2020.

They discussed the 12 steps you can take in order to create a robust digital strategy for 2020.

Here’s a recap of the webinar presentation.

In the last 20 years, search has evolved significantly.

Search is no longer about simple keywords, but conversations across different devices.

The algorithm updates rolled out by Google used to be about fighting spam. Now they’re aimed at enhancing user experience.

With all these changes, it is important to rethink how we’re approaching search as it is becoming more conversational.

We’ve been trained to type abbreviated queries such as “restaurants”, “pizza” or “Thai food” near me.

As people start to move into voice, they’re back to asking questions. SEO professionals need to be able to understand the nuance.

This is exactly what Google’s BERT does which is to help “better understand the nuances and context of words in searches and better match those queries with more relevant results.”

Marketers need to take a step back and plan on taking on all of your content and assets with the goal of not only owning the shelf space at Google’s SERPs but also through other channels.

To come up with a robust digital strategy, you first need to answer this question:

What business problems are we solving?
  • Drive awareness, more foot traffic?
  • Start a new business or do a rebrand?
  • Get direct conversions?
  • Drive engagement?
  • Etc.

After understanding what problems need to be solved, then you can come up with the right channels, strategies, and tactics to pursue.

12 Steps to Create Robust Digital Strategy This Year:

Step 1: Find Searcher Intent:

Do you have the assets that can meet your customer needs? If not, start creating them.

With the growth of voice search, it’s much more important to focus on topical content rather than specific keyword themes.

Focus on what your audience is looking for and build natural content around those themes.

You can go to different tools and find out what people looking for or you can simply talk to people who are servicing your customers.

Analyze the types of questions that your clients and visitors ask every day about your store, location, hotel, and destination. These questions capture voice and natural search queries.

Build pages and content around those questions as they are highly relevant to your user. Make sure to provide answers that are informative and help solve your customer’s problem.

Keywords are still important, but they should not be the sole focus of your content, your user should be.

Step 2: Align Digital Assets with Content Strategy:

Next, we need to look at our entire set of assets through the lens of the customer.

Our assets must align with what type of content customers actually need.

Step 3: Focus on Entity Search:

Google is using entities to make decisions and it is important to leverage them.

For instance, schemas on bank websites drive online product sales. A bank is not only a financial institution. It has various financial products and each of them have different entities.

As we’re accumulating this information, just simply using schema and trying to align these pieces can result in a 20-30% increase in your organic traffic.

Step 4: Get Ready for Voice Search:

Since questions capture natural search queries, you can start gathering your frequently asked questions (FAQs), create content to answer them, and then publish across all channels (such as chatbots).

This will be helpful as we prepare for more voice search queries in the future.

Step 5: Leverage Critical FAQ Data Across Multiple Platforms:

In 2020, there is a need to leverage technology integration and automation to scale marketing tasks while providing that real customer experience.

There are solutions that address the changing landscape of search where more and more consumers are searching using personal assistant devices.

For example, Milestone offers a platform for businesses to manage all their FAQs for voice search. The queries can be sourced from Google, Bing, Yelp, and SEMrush.

Milestone’s platform provides a convenient dashboard to create queries and manage the answers. It allows for collaboration.

It can also be used to feed the FAQs to your website and also to chatbots and to Milestone’s Voice Actions Platform.

Once you’ve nailed down all five steps above, then it’s time to start looking into local.

Optimizing for local search and enhancing your GMB listings could boost your results.

Step 6: Have Accurate & Enhanced Information Across All Channels:

We already know that accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data is critical for local businesses. That is still true in 2020.

We can take it up a notch and use a platform that allows us to create a central hub where we have all our business information stored and then that same set of info can be easily published as well to other digital channels.

Consistent data and enhanced listings can lead to amazing local performance.

Step 7: Optimize for Traffic & Get People the Right Answer:

Adding a touch of personalization is also an exceptional way to deliver answers to FAQs, especially for users who are using a voice device.

In 2020, it’s all about being that right answer.

Step 8: Saturate SERPS & Universal Results:

You want to take all the steps above to ensure your content matches the search intent across all formats in order to dominate Google’s SERPs.

The key to success is to truly understand and align with the users’ needs across all devices.

Step 9: Aim for the Best User Experience:

Most SEOs only think SEO but you need to blend all channels to really engage with the user.

Your website should demonstrate:

  • Authority
  • Sound technical SEO
  • Relevancy
  • Speed
  • Clickability

After addressing the above, you can further enhance the experience through newly optimized assets:

  • Make callouts to relevant service information.
  • Include galleries and packages.
  • Include schemas to all technical information related to venues, facts, etc.
  • Include videos: use content from YouTube Channel and identify content opportunities.

Step 10: The Right Answers Can Be Monetized:

The right answers you provided can be monetized.

Monetize your questions with links to ecommerce events, etc.

Step 11: Holistic Strategy Across All Channels:

In 2020, we need to create a holistic strategy to align your business objectives to the nature of the SERPs.

You need to determine the impact you’re going to measure before thinking about the channel.

Holistic Strategy Across All Channels

Step 12: Convert Knowledge Into Wisdom:

When you leverage an internal framework that aligns business objectives with needs and strategy, you get amazing results.

Q&A:

Here are just some of the attendee questions answered by Bill Hunt.

Q: If you can name ONE site-related aspect (such as on-page SEO but don’t tell me content because it is too obvious and general) that a business needs to focus on, what would that be? Speed? Meta data? UX/UI for conversion?

Bill Hunt (BH): Snippet optimization after ensuring that you’re well indexed. Nothing else matters unless these are accounted for.

Q: How would you help a franchise optimize their online listing of my business without a separate vanity site?

BH: Focus on the location by ensuring all of your NAP data is correct in submissions from the parent. It is impossible now for a franchise business like Pizza Hut to rank for pizza in any location outside of the geographical area. Google will show you when you deserve to be shown.

Q: Not to avoid the negative, what DO you consider as SUPERIOR ranking tools?

BH: They are all nearly worthless now. Depending on what you want them to tell you. Most will tell you if something ranks if you have the words in the account. They don’t tell you if it is the right page.

It depends on how much data you want. Try them and see which have reporting that is helpful. Some are starting to add Google Data Center connectors, others are painful to export reports and share them.

Q: What advice do you have for those who might not have agency over all digital channels? Like local franchise brands. How should we focus or is it not worthwhile to try to enhance the aspects you can control (like local listings) in isolation?

BH: Ensure you own your NAP from inside your location. That is your radius. Make sure the pictures, phone number, and those elements are 100% correct. From there you can use other content to differentiate yourself.

Q: Is content (website blog) as important for local small businesses as it is for enterprises?

BH: It depends on how you use it. Do you have time to write things? Are there things you know that may help people make decisions?

Too many small businesses use canned content. I think a blog can be helpful if you can add locational nuances. I have seen some local pubs or distilleries use them for drink ideas.

You can use it as a way to connect with those around you. It is a way for you to showcase successes or ways to use products or services.

Lastly, for any business you dealt with, have you ever read their blog or information other than their core location info and/or services? If not why not, too busy, not relevant?

Really the only one I read is for my local dive shop as they are talking about local dive conditions, trip reports and product reviews that are relevant to diving in our area.

Sometimes I read from a local greenhouse/landscaping company talking about when to plant. Most of these come to me via email aligned to new seasons of information.

Q: What is AMP?

BH: Accelerated Mobile Pages – pages where Google has removed all of the noise, extraneous scripts and ads from to deliver a direct to the point set of content to a mobile searcher.

Q: What’s the strategy for SMEs in 2020 and which tool?

BH: Do a search for the 10 or 20 most important words to your business and look at the search results. If they are not descriptive and compelling and make people want to click more than other choices, update them.

Best to your eyes, brain and common sense. I don’t really use any tools other than for deep data mining.

Q: When adding FAQ content are you also adding FAQ Schema?

BH: Yes, it is critical to use FAQ schema and ensure it is correct.

  • [Video Recap]

 

Enterprise SEO: Planning Your SEO Strategy

Enterprise SEO: Planning Your SEO Strategy

By | seo advice for business

Most enterprise-level organizations expect a strategy for SEO before the fiscal year begins.

This strategy is usually communicated up through the key stakeholders (Directors, VPs and even C-levels) who tend to show an interest in SEO for the company.

Once the strategy is agreed on and confirmed by all involved, it will act as a sort of reference throughout the year as the SEO team lead (Manager, Director or sometimes VP) to report against progress and key performance indicators (KPIs) that could include revenue increase, team efficiency increase, or other metric everyone has agreed on.

Having been through this process on numerous occasions while working both within the organization and as a consultant, I put together an outline of what to consider when getting your strategy in place.

The latest trends include patent releases by Google the last couple of years (Neural Matching, RankBrain, BERT, etc.), webmaster guidelines best practices updates, and any trending searches that could be coming up for growth opportunities.

Your 2020 SEO strategy for enterprise SEO should reflect all of the latest trends with the addition of plans for team improvements and additional help to increase efficiency.

Below is a recommended outline that sets your strategy to encompass all that is important for 2020 in SEO and includes the needs an enterprise SEO strategy has that sets you apart from the smaller SMBs.

Technical Foundational SEO:
  • Google Search Console Reported Issues
  • Crawl Reports – Content and Bug Fixes
  • Page Speed Improvements
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Growth Projects:
  • Keyword Groupings
  • New Keyword Search Trends
  • Discovery Optimization
  • Answer Box Opportunities
Neural Matching Optimization:
  • Current Content Adjustments
  • New Content Synonyms and Internal Linking Strategy
Cross-Organization Communication:
  • SME Communication
  • Engineering Communication
  • Key Stakeholder Communication
Team and Tools:
  • Agencies and Consultants
  • Team Additions
  • Reporting and Crawling Tool(s)

The outline isn’t “one size fits all” since every organization is different – from team structure to communication across the organization, technical issues (or none at all), to agency and/or consultant and reporting tools.

Let’s dive deeper into each point so you can decide if what I recommend fits your organization.

Technical Foundational SEO:

The Why:

Every enterprise SEO organization I have worked with/for has always needed some form of technical and/or foundation SEO.

If a website has issues surfaced in Google Search Console, or other reporting tools, more often than not any effort made to increase SEO from growth strategies will fall flat.

The key to this part of the strategy is to communicate that this part should be flexible. Engineering hours should always be allocated for bug fixes and larger projects to resolve any major issues.

KPIs:

Reporting on success for your technical SEO at an enterprise level can vary.

If reporting on revenue increase, estimate an overall .5 or full position improvement for the main domain resulting in an increase in CTR and therefore a revenue boost from the additional traffic.

I have found some organizations I work for like to state that the technical SEO fixes fall under a simple “keep the lights on” (same as stress testing and general engineering processes) and therefore won’t need any key performance results.

Whatever you decide to add under this strategy for projects or checklists, I highly recommend including this in your strategy no matter how well off (or how bad) your site’s foundation is.

Google Search Console & Bing Reported Issues:

500 errors, soft 404s, AMP issues, structured data issues, crawl rate, etc. All of these should be checked regularly and addressed quickly if anything should come up.

Crawl Reports: Content & Bug Fixes:

Hopefully, your organization has crawling tools to report on issues that Google or Bing won’t tell you.

Similar or duplicate content, non-compliant URLs, canonical issues, internal linking issues, etc should all fall under fixes just as the the GSC and Bing reported issues do.

Page Speed Improvements:

While page speed is important for SEO, it is also important for conversion improvements.

If your organization has conversion optimization, or user experience team(s) this is a good opportunity to line with additional teams to gain more exposure and prioritize any fixes identified to improve page speed.

I will usually identify pages (or sets of pages) that have good SEO value but tend to be slow and determine a KPI to a specific time at the “time to interact” (TTI) level.

AMP:

If your company doesn’t have AMP, this is a good opportunity to set a strategy on which pages should have AMP counterparts.

If you have AMP, they will most likely need improvements, or could need some fixes within the year. Allocate time under a strategy that defines where the pages are at, and what work needs to get done with AMP.

Every organization is different, so add any issues you have now or could potentially see when search engines update their algorithms or update their guidelines.

By allocating engineering time for technical SEO this will avoid any discussion on prioritizing and fighting for resources later in the year ensuring the work will get done, and the site will see improvements from SEO work by the end of the year.

Growth Projects:

The Why:

Playing “whack a mole” alone doesn’t work for enterprise SEO.

Planning for larger strategies that focus on growth potential will show your organization that you can impact the business in a positive way with SEO.

Understanding trends, new position opportunities (discovery, answer boxes, etc) and keywords being searched by your target audience is key.

At Nordstrom, my team met with the buyers that were identifying fashion trends each season. We would look at up and coming designers, brands that were trending hot, and new style trends that were hitting the market.

My SEO team used reports to see what people were searching which helped us target those terms and related terms (for neural matching) and generate pages for them that the merchandising team added products for.

Other companies I have worked with will use local search trends with popular things to do, trendy food and restaurants, etc.

If you don’t know what to optimize for at the start of the year, define a strategy called “seasonal trends” or “food trends” that allocate time from resources needed to optimize when you are ready to define those exact trends.

KPIs:

Reporting of growth opportunities is probably easier than the other strategies you will have in your 2020 SEO plan.

With a simple keyword analysis you’ll be able to:

  • Estimate impressions from search volume (use the percentage of the search volume based on potential rankings not the entire search volume number).
  • Calculate click-through rate based on estimated position (use your current CTR report per avg position).
  • Calculate revenue based on current revenue per visit overall (or specifically for the pages you’re improving for a more accurate number).

For Discovery and Answer box, use your current numbers and estimate a percentage increase in traffic then revenue.

Keyword Optimization:

Look at any low-hanging fruit with gap reports that you could gain some potential.

Some possibilities for improvement that should be easy include:

  • Terms that you get rankings for that have a high search volume but the page isn’t monetizing wel.
  • Pages that have high impressions and the position is on the second page.

New Keyword Search Trends:

This is where your trends come into play. Set a strategy around new opportunities that could get you ahead of the competition.

Discovery Optimization:

Keyword discovery is fastly playing an important role in 2020. Google and Bing are anticipating what a user wants before they search. If your site isn’t optimized for this, then you’re missing out.

Answer Box Opportunities:

Answer boxes have been around for a while now and have proven to be lucrative for SEO. Sites that have taken the time to optimize and monetize this position are winning at the SEO game.

Even if you just have list “growth opportunities” as an overall strategy for 2020 and define what that looks like later, by including them in your 2020 strategy you will be a rock star at your enterprise SEO organization.

Neural Matching Optimization:

The Why:

Google is releasing updates around the neural matching algorithm regularly.

What this means for SEO is that focusing on user intent more so than just optimizing a page for a keyword is becoming more important to your enterprise SEO success.

Chances are that at an enterprise level, the site has been optimized for SEO in the past and needs some updating.

KPIs:

Given that this is an improvement on what already exists, you can estimate a slight increase to the existing pages, or focus on pages that might have dropped in 2019 from the various updates.

Current Content Adjustments:

Take a look at pages that are doing well in impressions, position, and revenue and revisit them to ensure that synonyms are mentioned on the pages.

New Content Synonyms & Internal Linking Strategy:

Write articles and blog posts on related terms and link to those pages to keep them at the top of the results throughout the year.

Having this in your strategy will show your key stakeholders that you are keeping up with the latest SEO trends and will stay ahead of the competition throughout the year.

Cross-Organization Communication:

The Why:

One aspect that sets enterprise SEO from the small or medium businesses is that within a larger organization there are multiple teams that deal with SEO.

Weeding through the bureaucracy and red tape that it takes to get any SEO work done is the enterprise SEO’s main role.

Determining a strategy of communication across these teams will guarantee support and that work will get done within the year.

KPIs:

Establishing improvements to report against with regards to communication can be tricky.

If your company has tools like BrightEdge or Conductor you can reference usage reports or dashboard access as a key performance indicator.

If you don’t have such tools available grab a report on how many meetings you have each month with each team, or use reports on SEO revenue for each vertical you communicate with.

SME Communication:

Determining subject matter experts (SMEs) within each team you work with will make your life easier in the long run.

If you don’t have people you work with now, make it your strategy to establish who these people are and how you plan to educate and/or communicate with them.

Engineering Communication:

Engineering holds the keys to the castle and if you don’t have a working relationship with the team you won’t get your work done. If you need to focus on product or project managers to get to engineering then be sure to outline that in your strategy.

Key Stakeholder Communication:

Enterprise SEOs need executives and key stakeholders across the organization in order to help prioritize SEO as the business level.

Oftentimes, you will heard teams say “The business sets the priorities” when you ask why something isn’t getting done, or why your project moved down in the queue.

If you have buy-in from the business then your SEO projects won’t fall down.

Coming into enterprise corporations on numerous occasions I have found that this part of the strategy often gets overlooked or isn’t documented.

By defining what it is your plan to do throughout the year to keep communication flowing, the overall health of SEO for the site and for the business will continue to grow.

Team and Tools:

The Why:

Another key aspect of the enterprise corporation is establishing a good SEO team with clear roles and responsibilities, along with an agency and/or consultant to assist in work and help champion SEO with reporting and crawl tools.

All of these play an integral part in the overall success of SEO within a larger organization.

KPIs:

Reporting on key performance improvements can be a bit tricky since it doesn’t directly relate to revenue.

However, by determining a solid strategy you can show improvements in efficiency and overall growth from SEO that will affect the bottom line.

Agencies and Consultants:

If you don’t have an agency or a consultant to help you with your enterprise SEO, I highly recommend you find a good one.

Check your ego at the door by taking advantage of the extra help and the back-up expertise when you find other teams challenge your recommendations.

Setting a strategy on finding an agency and/or consultant is key, and once you have one be sure to have a solid plan to utilize them throughout the year.

Team Additions:

As your SEO will grow throughout the year it’s good to have a plan for new hires that can assist with the additional work. In my article The 4 Pillars of SEO, I define what the key aspects to enterprise SEO success are.

Falling in-line with the strategic recommendations in this article, your hires can take on each aspect as a specialization and turn into team leads as you grow.

If you avoid thinking hierarchy and lean more towards roles and responsibilities, then your enterprise SEO will benefit and your team will be a strong unit in the long run.

Reporting and Crawling Tool(s):

Whether you have tools and need to review and maximize current costs (I managed to cut the SEO budget by including a tool review one year by $600,000) or you need to add new tools, it’s important to list them as part of your strategy.

If you’re adding tools that you didn’t have before, and need to justify the spend, this is a good time to say this is a team efficiency improvement as a KPI.

By including the above three in your strategy, it will help you to get buy-in from finance for headcount and the costs associated with the added costs.

Remember that you aren’t spending money on advertising that your SEM counterparts do. However, this is where your overhead comes into play.

At the end of the day, your return on investment will still be much higher than any paid advertising channel so document what you need and fight for the budget.

A complete strategy that encompasses all of the latest SEO strategies, as well as organizational team growth and improvements, will provide a holistic view into the role SEO plays within the organization resulting in overall growth for the business.

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Long Tail Keywords and SEO

Long Tail Keywords and SEO

By | seo advice for business

If you visualize a typical X and Y axis graph, popular keywords are bunched up in a HUGE group to the left while descending to the right is a long descending line of less popular keywords numbering in maybe the trillions – It’s an ever growing list. Given that 15% of search queries are long tail, it’s important to understand this part of search engine optimization.

The group of popular keywords on the left side are known as Head terms and the group of less popular words on the right are known as the long tail.

Long Tail Keyword Myths:

Contrary to popular thought, long tail keywords are not three and four word keywords. This is a common mistake made when talking about long tail keywords.

There are many people who define long tail keywords as words consisting of three, four or more words. This is 100% false.

Long tail keywords are defined by how rare they are. For example, if you run a bookstore you’re going to hear more requests for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling than one would for The Book of Thoth by Aleister Crowley.

Both books have their fans but Harry Potter is analogous to a head term keyword phrase and The Book of Thoth is analogous to a long tail keyword phrase.

Long tail is about the relative rarity of its occurrence as a search phrase in Google. It’s not about how many words are in the keyword phrase.

History of The Long Tail:

The Long Tail has its origin in an article in Wired magazine by Chris Anderson that was titled The Long Tail

The article reflected on the notion of popularity and how popularity was artificially restricted by supply and demand. If the only songs you can listen to are the songs the radio stations play then that restricted playlist will result in an artificially created popularity, what Anderson termed:

His idea was to propose that the Internet frees us from the restraints of the physical world, the restraints of limited radio frequency bandwidth for channels and limited space in bookstores. That freedom opens the door to an immense audience that will like books by relatively obscure authors and for our purposes, results in traffic from relatively rare and obscure search terms.

What’s Good About Long Tail?

In general, long tail keywords can be difficult to optimize for. Google’s said that 15% of search queries are new. New search queries are the long tail. How does one optimize for a keyword that’s never been seen before? You don’t.

But one should not necessarily write off 15% of all search queries for any given topic. There may be money in those search queries. So how do you optimize for long tail queries, particularly those that have never been seen before?

The only approach, in my opinion, is to create content with these four qualities:

  • Avoid ambiguity
  • Be precise
  • Avoid going off-topic
  • Answer the question, meet the needs of the search query.

Which Long Tail Should You Chase?

Some long tail keywords are very competitive because success is lucrative. These long tail keywords are thus more valuable because of their scarcity.

For example, the supply of people genuinely seeking to hire a mesothelioma lawyer is relatively scarce. That makes this long tail keyword phrase more valuable. That value is reflected in the Pay Per Click competition for that keyword phrase.

Natural and Unnatural Long Tail Keywords

Historically many tools have shown a distorted estimate of what the real keyword demand is. Keyword tools have consistently shown the amount of keywords being searched by publishers checking their rankings and actual real people looking for answers.

long-tail-keywords

In my experience the keyword volumes reported directly from search engines has always been unreliable. In my opinion and experience a certain percentage are publishers checking their search positions.

The above is a Google Trends illustration showing where keywords are popular. I compared it with another keyword phrase that is somewhat close. Normally the view by state has a mixed distribution. This map shows that a large percentage are coming from Oregon.

The illustration below shows the keyword distribution difference between the top five states for that keyword. California, one of the largest states by population has a third of the keyword volume as the much smaller state Oregon, as measured over a five year period.

keyword-volume

Yet according to statistics compiled by Mesothelioma.com, Oregon had around 700 deaths attributed to Mesothelioma from 1999 to 2015 compared to over 4,000 deaths in California during the same period of time.

Given those statistics, one would think that Oregon would score one third the amount of search queries of California instead of the other way around. That seems to point out to how unreliable search query data can be due to competitive factors.

One way to tell if a long tail keyword phrase is worth pursuing is by the PPC competition.

There’s value in informational search queries, where people are seeking information about something. But unless you’re scaling hundreds of thousands or even millions of long tail search queries, it’s going to be tough to earn a living from ad impressions from long tail informational queries.

Long Tail Keywords for SEO:

  • Long tail search queries are profitable and not profitable
  • Long tail search queries consist are short phrases and long phrases
  • Long tail search phrases can’t always be predicted since many have never previously existed
  • Long tail queries are not always three or more keywords
  • Long tail keywords are sometimes two or less words in length

As should be evident now, keywords that are a part of the long tail have a lot more nuance than just keywords that are three or four words long. Furthermore, Google is getting better at understanding vague and unique queries because of technologies like BERT.

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Yelp SEO: How to Optimize Your Listings & Rank Higher

Yelp SEO: How to Optimize Your Listings & Rank Higher

By | seo advice for business

One of the reasons Yelp works so well is because it doesn’t appear to be a search engine on the surface. It seems completely controlled by reviews, right?

While this is definitely true, if you see ads on a page and there is a search function available, you can bet that the website has an algorithm to help it rank different pages, and that algorithm isn’t just about which businesses have the most reviews (go ahead and take a look – it’s hard to find a rhyme to their rhythm of ranking).

This is where being strategic in the way you optimize your Yelp page comes in handy.

The Basics of Yelp Optimization:

For fun, Google “how does Yelp’s search algorithm work.” The latest answer to that question was in 2013.

In other words, much of what we know works comes from experiments and trying different things within the platform.

However, there are a few basics that we know are important when it comes to ranking:

1. Fill out All of Your Information:

It should go without saying, but the more information you include on your Yelp listing, the better optimized that listing is for readers; thus, making your listing superior to those not fully completed.

Sound familiar yet? Yep, it’s just like Google. Reader experience matters.

2. Add Photos:

Photos also make for a better page, so it seems that precedence is given to pages that include lots of photos.

This includes both photos that you have uploaded as well as photos that reviewers have uploaded, so encourage those posts!

3. Respond to Reviews:

Your page needs to remain fresh. Responding to reviews is a great way to show Yelp and their readers that your page is active.

If that isn’t enough, it’s just good business to understand your customers and respond to their thoughts, good or bad.

If you’re really new to Yelp, you’ll first need to claim your business.

Learn more about how to claim your business or start a Yelp page from scratch here.

Taking Yelp SEO to the Next Level
Once you’ve got the basics down and a few great reviews under your belt, go after your competition and take things up a notch!

Here are a few different ways you can start to really be strategic in your Yelp SEO efforts:

4. Optimize for Keywords:

Similarly to any other search engine out there, you want to write for readers and not for bots. This means no keyword stuffing or unnatural writing.

However, it is important to take the content that you put on your page seriously, particularly your business description.

You don’t have as much content to work with as say, a blog post, so make sure that you are truly getting across the information that you want to be known for on Yelp.

Think of a few key phrases that you would want to pop-up for when people search, and then make sure your content accurately reflects those keywords.

Also, consider local Yelp SEO here and utilize those terms in your writing.

5. Consider Your Yelp Categories Carefully:

One of the biggest mistakes we see clients make is that they want to include themselves in as many categories as possible because it could maybe-in-a-roundabout-way-sometime-in-the-future related to them.

This is bad news. Irrelevant categories can actually hurt your rankings!

You are allowed to select three categories, but that doesn’t mean you have to select three.

6. Earn Backlinks & Engagement for Your Yelp Page:

Again just like any other search engine, backlinks to your page help show the algorithm that you are a hot commodity.

This probably isn’t nearly as important as with a Google or Bing, but backlinks bring traffic to Yelp (which Yelp likes), and backlinks show authority, plain and simple.

A few ways to encourage backlinks include:

Encourage Check-Ins

Yelp offers check-ins so that people can remember where they’ve been, earn rewards, and yes, get their friends to use Yelp as well.

As a business, you can encourage people to visit your business and then check-in by offering special promotions. They check in, they get the promotion, and everyone wins. You can learn more here.

Put a Linkable Yelp Badge on Your Website

If you want reviews, make sure people know that you’re on Yelp! This badge is a great way to show legitimacy so it’s a must-have if you care about Yelp SEO.

Put Your Yelp Link in an Email Signature

This is just another great way to constantly remind people to check you out on Yelp.

Ask for Reviews in a Drip Campaign

My personal favorite is to ask people to check out your Yelp reviews in an early-stage email (again, showing that you’re legitimate), and then asking people to review your business after they have purchased.

This doesn’t make sense for all businesses, but it’s just another way to get your page in front of people, hopefuly leading to a link and/or higher traffic that looks good in the eyes of the Yelp algorithm.

7. Keep Updating Your Listing:

This is a tip that is constantly forgotten. After you are happy with the way your listing looks, you have to keep it updated.

This means responding to reviews, adding photos, improving your content, and offering check-ins for as long as you are active and trying to rank on Yelp.

This isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it platform, so it’s important to stay up to date and roll with the changes the platform makes.

Summary:

Yelp SEO doesn’t have to be difficult.

In fact, I would argue that optimizing your Yelp page is one of the easier search engines to tackle, so think of Yelp as low-hanging fruit and get your page to the top.

Happy optimizing!

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Avoid Making These Complex SEO Mistakes & Get Better Rankings

Avoid Making These Complex SEO Mistakes & Get Better Rankings

By | seo advice for business

Today, running a thorough and comprehensive SEO campaign is paramount for ranking. If you aren’t optimizing your website and keeping up with the trends, then your ranking competitors surely are.

I feel that it’s useful to think about SEO as simply the amalgamation of best practices that are recognized by the search engines.

And a lot of the time the ranking of a website can be ruined by accidentally not following a best practice.

So this article is about those SEO mistakes that we all make from time to time.

If you find yourself committing those mistakes, you’ll be able to fix those, and if you haven’t yet, you’ll know to avoid them.

Problem 1: Improper Indexing of Your Pages:

What it is: We all want Google to rank our pages higher. But Google’s hands can’t rank what its bots can’t see.

search-engine-spiders

The best way to see if you have any indexation issues is to use Google Search Console.

In the absolute vast majority of cases, your indexation problem will be internal: perhaps the page hasn’t been allowed in your robots.txt file by a developer working on the page, or a NOINDEX tag has been added to a page.

A DNS error or a 404 error are the most likely culprits for your pages not being indexed, and Search Console will show as much in its “Error” column.

Simply removing the NOINDEX tag manually for the pages in question, or allowing them in robots.txt, and allowing some time for Google bot to recrawl in peace, will get those pages to show up without a hitch.

If you end up in a situation where the entirety of your website is patently crawlable, with index tags, but still the actual Google search gives you only a fraction of the results you expect – you might have been hit by a manual action.

Start the recovery process by running a full website-wide audit.

Using an audit tool, you’ll get a nice layout of your website’s SEO health, with all of the pages that are and aren’t indexed in there.

See what pages are violating Google’s best practices, and which simply didn’t have the correct tagging and/or robots instructions. It’s generally a good practice to check your website for crawling issues every month or so.

Problem 2: Keyword Cannibalization:

A common problem stemming from the fact that some of us marketers start to “overcrowd” the same topics, publishing extremely similar materials, which more or less target the exact same keywords.

What ends up happening is that various pages compete in ranking for the same keywords. This, in turn, hurts the ranking chances of all the pages involved.

This problem is complex enough for me to write an entire article on it. This is not a casual issue, and it should be fixed as soon as possible by turning to a keyword mapping tool.

Your keyword map would look along the following lines (disclosure: this is a screencapture from Rank Tracker, a tool my team created):

keyword-cannibalization

With the three columns, one for the keywords you’re targeting, one for the webpages connected to those keywords, and another for general SEO information.

Sort out your website with a keyword map in hand, and make sure that all of your content is targeting a different set of keywords.

Consolidate the pages targeting similar topics, and create a single page, incorporating a number of different ones.

That way you’ll ensure that you don’t have to compete with yourself on top of everybody else creating content in your niche.

Problem 3: Wrong Page Structuring for Its Target Topic:

Fact: even if you have many more backlinks than your competition, you might still be ranking lower than them.

This one might even seem counterintuitive to some, it certainly did to me when I first started handling SEO problems.

But the truth of the matter is that it’s not just about backlinks to your webpage.

Today, with all of Google’s efforts to combat quid pro quo linking strategies, simply amassing a huge backlink catalog is not enough.

Ranking higher is now, and has been for a while, not just about doing things right, but also about avoiding some punishing mistakes. It’s not only about the content, but also very much about the acceptable form.

For example, if you’re writing an article on the best footwear, and you create it as a listicle of round-about 2,000 words, and you can’t rank, you should look at your competition currently ranking.

Let’s just say that you posted a beautifully written and informative article on the best cities to live in. It’s a big piece of text with a couple of images. Names of the cities are woven throughout the text, The New Yorker-style.

Then you find out that on every page in the top-5 results for “best cities to live in” the information is presented as an image gallery with very little text. That means that Google considers this to be the best format covering that particular topic.

Simply edit your own content to fit these criteria: make it a gallery of images sporting short, clear descriptions, and see your page rise through the ranks!

And it’s a whole different conversation if we’re talking about the keywords for which Google has SERP features. What we see more and more is that Google is trying to answer users’ queries right on the SERP.

For that, it’s using such instruments as Google’s featured snippets, People also ask, Knowledge panels, and so on.

Now, getting into those is crucial, and crucially dependent on structure.

So, first, find out if it’s possible for your chosen keywords to get a SERP feature.

That’s easily done by any rank tracking software, but also by simply searching the terms you’re looking to rank for.

Go to Google’s Search Settings, and simply disable the Private results feature. Then, adjusting your region as necessary, look up your keywords.

If you see a Knowledge panel or a featured snippet in there, that means it’s on!

A huge part of getting into a SERP feature is using structured data markup.

Remember: Google’s priority is presenting its user with a quick and coherent answer to their question.

Apply structured data markup, make use of bullet points, lists, numbers, etc.

The search engine will recognize that you are providing a quick and easy answer, and will use you as a source of a featured snippet.

Adding also such structural elements as FAQ is also very helpful, as getting into any of the SERP features will increase your traffic, page views, and CTR.

It simply isn’t enough that you’ve come up with a brilliant content idea and know in your soul how to present it in the best way possible. That piece of content should also conform to what Google considers appropriate for the content.

Problem 4: Incoherent Internal Linking:

We all know about setting up functional navigation.

A user has to be able to come back to homepage from anywhere, have an understanding in what section of the website they currently are, and, ideally, be able to get anywhere on the website from any page, following just the links.

But proper internal linking goes a bit deeper than that.

The reality is that we all have the “necessary”, the “core”, or, more generally, the “money” pages.

Those are the ones that we consider the pages that bring in the “real money”.

So we tend to concentrate only on them when working on our site structure instead of building large “thematic clusters” which would connect a bunch of pages together.

And, well, that isn’t exactly the best way to go about internal linking. You have to spread the wealth of links around!

Look for ways to link not just to your core pages, but from them to your smaller, “supplementary” pages.

Go back and create new links from your old content to the new.

You need to conceptualize your content as clusters of pages each supporting the other.

For example, say you have a “core” page describing your software’s feature. Put some links from it to your supplementary content about using those features in the real world, to some guides, how-to’s and guest posts as well!

And, well, if you don’t have any supplementary content – create some for your core pages, then create a nice web of internal links that would connect your website into a coherent web.

While doing this, remember to make sure to not over-optimize your anchors.

This means that you should avoid the anchors containing the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and aim for naturally suitable anchors instead (although anchors like “read here” are obviously not the best).

A nice way to improve your internal linking is to have some sort of neat visualization tool, like the one presented in Website Auditor (disclaimer: my tool), with all of your pages shown as a web of connections.

That way, you immediately see where you have the most important “nodes”, and which pages could use a little more linking.

visualization-website

Any page can be a moneymaker with high-quality content and strong internal linking.

Problem 5: Low Page Speed, Especially on Mobile:

We all know that page speed has been a ranking factor for a while now.

Almost literally everybody handles that aspect of their SEO health better than they used to.

But even today, it’s easy to forget some basics and let your web page speed slip, costing you some significant traffic. And it’s not just about Google ranking you lower.

Simply put, with every additional second on your page’s time to load, there’s a significant number of people who bounce – never to be seen again.

Slower pages typically rank lower, convert worse, and provide a subpar user experience.

And this goes double for mobile.

Over half of mobile users simply leave a site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. If that weren’t enough, mobile page speed has been a ranking factor since July 2018.

Google’s encouragement of the AMP format, for the websites that can implement it, also speaks volumes to the fact that clean, fast experience for mobile users was, is, and will continue to be, a priority.

On top of it being a significant factor in the UX, as well as a ranking factor, consistently slower pages mean that the entire website will take much more time to crawl and index. That itself might create an indexation issue for you if you let this aspect go unchecked.

Fixing the speed issue requires a bit of work, admittedly, and if you have a website of any scale, it will be nearly impossible to do without a proper audit tool.

Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get an overall idea if a webpage’s speed starts to harm its ranking chances. Note how the “default” setting for the grade is the mobile experience.

pagespeed-insights

This is done because, for better or worse, mobile optimization is a priority for Google, and has been for a couple of years now.

It’s important enough for Google to warrant creating an entire separate Google app for testing your website’s speed specifically on mobile.

I recommend starting with PageSpeed Insights because it’s simply faster and more convenient.

There, you will receive, along with a quantified grade, a number of insights (hence the name) about the direction you can take in order to improve your score.

There are a million little “mistakes” a webmaster can make to slow their page down. From having too many redirects to having not enough of a CDN, a million things can be improved.

For my money, what every webmaster can do to immediately lower their pages’ loading times is to optimize your code and images.

Get rid of all the excess comments, formatting, unused bits of code, and compress all of your images for the web.

PageSpeed Insights is not a bad place to start to look for ideas on increasing your actual web page’s speed. But obviously you should look into a broader pool of audit tools or even contact an SEO expert if you want to get really thorough.

An audit tool is leagues better because it takes a look at all of your website’s pages at once, and then you’d be able to look up suggestions for improvements with a single click.

Conclusion:

Even today, with such a variety of guides, resources, and classes on SEO, it seems crazy that somebody would forget to write optimal title tags, for example.

That said, we see the mistakes presented here again and again all over the web.

Try and use this as a convenient pocket-sized guide for improving your rankings.

Safe travels, fellow SEO traveler!

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Top Reasons Why WordPress Is the Best CMS for SEO

By | Website Design Advice

Since its release in 2003, WordPress has never stopped growing.

In fact, it now powers 34% of the web.

1. WordPress Focuses on User Experience:

WordPress’s themes and plugins work together to make websites professional, user-friendly, and attractive.

The result?

Visitors enjoy the experience they get on a WordPress site.

They stay longer, decreasing your overall site bounce rate.

If you’re looking to improve your site’s SEO ranking, this is excellent news for you. Google wants to reward websites that provide a great user experience.

2. WordPress Allows You to Create Attractive Permalinks:

On WordPress, it’s super easy to edit your website’s permalink.

Instead of having a URL full of ugly-looking characters, you get something like this:

permalink-

The beauty of being able to edit your article’s permalink is you can plug your keyword into the URL.

This means your permalink doesn’t only look pretty and informative, it can help with your search ranking as well.

3. WordPress Makes Metadata Easy to Manage:

SEO titles and metadata improves how search engines interpret the relevance of your site.

Metadata tells search engine crawlers helps understand what your webpages are all about.

When you add relevant keywords to your metadata, your site becomes more likely to rank for those keywords.

So how does WordPress help you with metadata?

When you use WordPress, you can get a plugin such as Yoast SEO. This plugin allows you to add metadata to all your posts in minutes.

4. Optimizing Images for SEO Is Simple on WordPress:

Images are essential to your blog posts. One or two of them, used in a timely way, breaks up your blog into interesting, readable sections.

But images don’t only lead readers into the heart of your text.

They’re also powerful tools for SEO, especially when you use WordPress.

Here are three ways WordPress can optimize your images for better SEO ranking:

WordPress allows you to “create alternative text” for each image you use. This means you can plug in your keywords as image descriptions that’ll be noticed by search engine crawlers.
With WordPress, you can use a plugin that automatically creates alt text for your images.
You can resize your images so they don’t slow your page’s load speed down.

5. WordPress’s Sites Don’t Frustrate Users with Slow Load Time:

Page speed is a Google ranking factor in mobile search. So if your site is slow, it’ll not only frustrate users but push you lower on Google’s SERPs.

The good news is WordPress has amazing plugins that help with site speed.

For instance, there’s ShortPixel Image Optimizer. This plugin compresses your PDF documents and past images to speed up your site’s load time.

Another amazing plugin for site speed optimization is WPOptimize. This plugin caches your site, clears your database, and compresses your images for faster loading.

6. WordPress Is Optimized for Mobile Users:

Mobile usage has grown rapidly in the past few years. Just take a look at this chart from BroadbandSearch.

mobile-traffic

As you can see, mobile traffic went up 222% in five years!

If you’re a marketer trying to gain traction online, this means your website must be optimized for mobile usage.

The great news is if you’re already using WordPress to power your site, you don’t need to do anything extra to make your website accessible on mobile devices.

Why? Most WordPress themes are already optimized for mobile users.

7. WordPress Helps You Integrate Your Campaign with Social Media:

Social media is gigantic today, and it’s one of the best platforms for marketing your brand.

What’s more, success in your social media campaign will indirectly improve your SEO ranking.

Take a look at this cycle from LYFE Marketing to see how it works.

importance-of-social-media

What this means for you as a marketer is you should use social media to go hand-in-hand with your online marketing campaign.

And WordPress is there to help you do that.

On WordPress, you can create customized social media buttons for your blog so it’s easier for readers to share your content.

You can add a social media feed to your site.

You can even automate your social media campaigns!

8. WordPress Has Awesome Plugins Made Specifically for SEO:

When you use WordPress, optimizing for higher ranking becomes simple. All you need is to install the right plugins.

Here are three of the best SEO plugins for WordPress.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO has had millions of downloads worldwide because it makes website optimization simple for even the least tech-savvy person on the planet.

So, how can Yoast SEO help you?

  • It helps you optimize the content you write with your focus keyword.
  • It assists you in creating content that’s readable for both humans and search engine spiders.
  • It provides SEO title and meta description templating.

Yoast SEO also offers Premium users full support whenever needed.

Google XML Site Maps

With this plugin, creating complex XML site maps becomes simple. These maps make your site’s structure easy for search engine crawlers to understand.

Also, each time you publish a post, this plugin “notifies” search engines of your new content.

Google Analytics by Monster Insights

WordPress’s Google Analytics plugin is described as both “easy” and “powerful.”

Here are three reasons this plugin stands out:

  • You don’t need to leave your WordPress dashboard to see your Google Analytics reports.
  • You can study which pages stand out on your site with detailed stats.
  • You can see how many clicks your banner ads, affiliate links, and outbound links get.

The beautiful thing about SEO plugins for WordPress? You never have to touch even a line of code.

9. WordPress Is Easy to Integrate with Other Software Tools:

You already know how easy it is to integrate WordPress with Google Analytics and Yoast.

But they’re not the only software tools you can use seamlessly with WordPress.

Here are some others:

  • ConvertKit (for email campaigns, landing pages, and forms).
  • Sucuri (one of the best software for security).
  • G Suite (for your documents, spreadsheets, and emails).

With these software tools running smoothly with your site, you can boost engagement which will further improve your SEO rank.

10. WordPress Has SEO-Friendly Themes:

Keywords and metadata aren’t the only components search engine spiders examine for relevance.

Another hugely important thing they look for is good webpage design.

When you use WordPress, you never have to worry about optimizing your site design for SEO yourself.

Simply choose an SEO-friendly theme, and you’re on your way to attracting those spiders to your site!

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Elements That Make SEO & Web Design Work Well Together

By | seo advice for business

When you’re trying to improve your website’s performance, it’s important to remember that you have to focus on numerous factors simultaneously.

In both life and digital marketing, we tend to give all of our attention to one or two important elements while neglecting something else that can turn out to be equally as important.

If you want to do better in the SERPs, it takes more than just SEO.

Your website also needs to be designed well, or you risk squandering all of that organic equity you have been building.

SEO and web design work together more seamlessly than many people might realize.

Their components mingle and flow together so well that, when executed correctly, your website visitors should not actually notice anything about what you have created; they should simply start navigating through your site.

So, what are those elements where SEO and web design collaborate? Check out these five ways they are used together.

1. Mobile-Friendliness:

Anyone who’s even slightly familiar with SEO or web design should already know the importance of making your website mobile-friendly.

In fact, if this isn’t something you’ve taken the time to do yet, you’re already a few years behind.

Google made mobile-friendliness a ranking factor in 2015. That’s half a decade ago.

The search giant then introduced mobile-first indexing in 2017. It’s clear to see how importantly Google views mobile-friendliness, but many websites still haven’t caught on.

The number of people searching on desktops has been declining for a few years now, while the number of people searching on mobile devices has been steadily increasing.

More than half of all web traffic is coming from mobile devices, which means that more than half of your audience is also likely to be on their mobile phones.

Without a mobile-friendly website design, you could be accidentally alienating half of your users. That is massive.

A website with a high bounce rate due to not loading properly on a phone or tablet is going to send bad signals to Google, and your rankings could plummet.

2. Easy-to-Read Design:

If you’ve been working on improving your SEO, content is likely something that you have spent a lot of time on.

Some people might not realize what a huge impact the design of a website can have on your content, or at least the presentation of it.

Poor web design can make it impossible for users to read what they came to your website to do.

Pages with blocks of content in strange places, with too many hyperlinks that don’t serve a clear purpose, essentially erases any audience that you managed to bring onto your site.

And if no one can get the information they want, what’s the point?

At some point, you’ve probably been on a website that had text that was impossible to read because of the page design.

Maybe it was a light-colored text on a pure white background or a dark color on black. Those kinds of designs recall the often terrible websites of the mid- to late 1990s.

But the issue is not always color. The text may also be too big or small, or written in a hard-to-read font.

Like websites that aren’t mobile-friendly, sites that are difficult to read on any device or desktop are going to turn people away quickly.

Web designers understand how to create websites that make it easy for users to take in your content so you get the most for your money.

White space, line length, and any extra elements such as images can all affect how people pay attention to your site. Also, remember to consider people with disabilities by going for an inclusive web design format.

3. Website Speed:

Do you know what’s slowing your website down?

Chances are, it could have something to do with your web design. Website speed is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO, and it’s a primary deficiency for many websites.

If you haven’t been ranking well, it could be that your website is just too slow and people are bouncing quickly.

Never forget that page speed is a known ranking signal, so you need to devote your time to speeding up your site by optimizing your images, eliminating unnecessary plugins, allowing browser caching, and so on.

Now, you might actually think your website loads quickly enough, not knowing how long people are actually willing to wait. Ideally, your website should load in two seconds.

When it takes longer than three seconds, as many as half the users visiting your site are likely to abandon it. Page speed is more important on mobile devices, where people are even less likely to spend time waiting.

Page speed is not only important to users, but it’s also important to Google. The speed of your website affects Google’s ability to crawl it.

If your page speed causes Google to crawl fewer pages, you won’t have as many pages getting indexed.

When this happens, it will be impossible for these pages to rank at all. Ensuring website security through “https” encryption is necessary.

4. Sitemaps:

Speaking of crawling your website, web design can help with this in more than one way. A sitemap is a crucial element to have in place if you want search engines to be smarter about how they crawl your website.

Your sitemap provides search engines with a guide of all the pages and content on your website. This gives you the chance to tell search engines what pages are most important to your site.

This is an especially important part to get right for larger websites, as well as newer ones that might not have any external links just yet.

In addition to their benefit to search engines, sitemaps also aid in user navigation. A new visitor to your site can refer to your sitemap for help getting around it.

Sitemaps also contain important metadata about your web pages to give them a better chance of ranking highly.

5. Gaining Users’ Trust:

Unlike some other SEO factors, you really cannot measure how much people trust you or your website. However, gaining trust is still a huge part of getting your website to rank higher.

There’s no doubt that most people are quick to form opinions, and once they have them, it can be difficult to change their minds.

Over the years, we have gotten used to seeing perfected websites that provide phenomenal user experiences. This is what we naturally expect to see when we open a website.

We want something that’s clean, easy to navigate, and that can quickly give us the information we want. We tend to think these kinds of websites just seem more trustworthy.

If a website looks old and outdated or is too difficult to use, most people will be left with a bad impression, and they could leave and not come back.

You could have a product or service that might be exactly what they are looking for, but your website doesn’t convey this.

A bad website will make it look like your business or organization simply doesn’t put in much effort.

Conclusion:

SEO is best done in partnership with web design, and improving your web design doesn’t have to be difficult.

Keep these pointers in mind when designing your website, and you could soon start seeing the higher rankings that have been eluding you.

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Top Paid Search Strategies

Top Paid Search Strategies

By | Networking Bizz News

If you want your PPC campaigns to remain effective in 2020, you have no choice but to evolve. In some cases, that evolution will mean thinking about things very differently than before.

If your program isn’t in an advanced state already, here are ten tactics you must try this year (in no particular order).

1. Layered Audience: Demographics & Affinity:

It’s no secret that a campaign will perform best when you clearly define who it’s meant for.

By using the combined power of Google Ads and Analytics, you’re able to give your campaigns a better chance of success by targeting those most likely to take the desired action. I look at demographics and affinity as a more of a passive “who they are” classification.

The screenshot below shows current site visitors who fall into the affinity category of “Pet Lovers”. Those specific customers convert 46% better than the average. That’s an audience worth engaging:

Layered Audience

2. Layered Audience: In Market:

While Demographics and Affinity audiences are more about “who they are”, In-Market audiences are about “what they’re doing”.

In this case, this an audience who is exhibiting certain online behavior consistent with those who are actively “in the market” for a product or service.

Layered Audience: In Market

3. Layered Audience: Life Events:

Anyone who has ever run a Direct Response campaign (even in the pre-digital days) knows that reaching potential customers at key life event stages can be critical to its performance.

If you’ve ever gotten a mortgage (or even just moved to a new address), you’ve probably noticed an increase in the volume of offers you receive. There’s a very good reason for that – data shows it’s effective.

Google Ads allows you to run promotions for specific “life events” on a limited basis today. It’s limited because:

  • You’re restricted to life events concerning:
  • College graduation.
  • Marriage.
  • Moving.
  • It’s currently available for Gmail and YouTube campaigns.

They launched these targeting capabilities in the last couple of years and hopefully, it will eventually be expanded as a targeting layer for additional events and platforms.

4. Running One Responsive Search Ad (RSA) Per Ad Group:

I know. You tried it and were less than impressed. I get it.

Try it again, but this time on some keywords and audiences that might not be your core focus.

If your campaigns are anything like most, you have some core audiences and set of keyword variations that make up the bulk of the conversions and revenues.

Test RSAs to try and find success outside that core audience. The biggest things to remember:

  • The key word in machine learning is “learning.” In order to “learn” what works, the “machine” also must learn what doesn’t. That takes time and a bit of volume to get a good read.
  • You still need to input some quality headlines (minimum 3, up to 15) and descriptions (minimum 2, up to 4). If those are sub-quality, no amount of machine learning will help your campaigns.

5. Establish a Target Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) or Return on Ad Spend (ROAS):

This is a Marketing 101 principle that unfortunately even some of the largest companies in the world don’t complete (or at least complete properly).

The automation is now in place to optimize campaigns at scale to a specific CPA or ROAS, but that functionality is useless if you don’t have that figured out (and potentially even worse if you have a CPA or ROAS goal calculated with poor logic).

Is CPA a perfect metric? Nope.

Neither is ROAS.

I have challenges with both when we’re talking about a tactic like text search ads that usually play a role somewhere in the second half of a purchase journey.

Without proper context, CPA and ROAS are very incomplete numbers. However, you can get to a number that’s a reasonable mark for optimizing campaigns to once you take the time and effort to piece together the following:

  • The various marketing campaigns required to take a buyer from pre-awareness to a conversion.
  • The lifetime value of a customer.
  • Your margins.

6. Test Smart Bidding Strategies

See #5. Once you have that foundational element established, you can begin to let the system “do the grunt work” it takes to get the campaign there.

7. Invest in Microsoft Ads Already, Will You?!?!

Microsoft Ads have come a long, long way since the early days of Bing when a lot of us in PPC treated them like an afterthought that we would “get around to” when we had time and as long they made it easy to copy our AdWords campaigns over.

Of course, there are no guarantees it’ll be effective for your brand, but I’m seeing more consistent success across my account base than I did five years ago.

They even have some features that Google doesn’t (and can’t) have. For more insight on that, check out the recent post from contributor Tim Jensen.

8. Using Google Analytics Data to Execute Remarketing Campaigns:

Are you still remarketing equally to everyone who visits your site?

Are all your site visitors equal?

Of course not!

The example below is from a business that has both an ecommerce and physical retail presence.

A quality visit entering the site on a “store locator” page is an opportunity to present remarketing ads promoting the in-store experience.

Google Analytics Data

9. Report the Store Visits Metric (For Businesses with Brick & Mortar Locations):

While we’re on the subject of brick & mortar, leveraging the Store visits metric available in Google Ads is a great way to gain additional support for your campaigns.

Sometimes the management in the physical stores can feel like digital marketing campaigns are designed more for Ecommerce so it’s great to be able to present this kind of data.

Report the Store Visits Metric

10. Review & (Most Likely) Revise Your Campaign Structure:

A campaign restructure is often one of the first things an experienced PPC pro ends up recommending once an audit is complete.

A poor campaign structure is much like a bad foundation on a house – if that’s in bad shape, not much else matters.

A proper campaign structure has always been important, but it’s absolutely critical if you want to take advantage of the automation capabilities to optimize and scale your campaigns.

In order to let the automation handle the grunt work and get you out of the weeds, you must be very strategic about how you structure the campaigns.

There’s not a handbook on one way correct way to structure a campaign for all types of businesses, but in general, you need to take into account:

  • Geography.
  • Seasonality.
  • Product mix.
  • Core terms.
  • Budget ownership.
  • Your ability/bandwidth to manage it all.

Proper setup requires a lot of heavy lifting but will pay the dividends of a long shelf life and program scalability.

Ironically, this last recommendation is something you’ll likely need to do before you can find success with the earlier ones.

Final Word

Trying these tactics will not guarantee success and I’m certain there will be additional “Must Try” PPC features this year that will make sense for your campaigns.

If you haven’t tried the tactics from this post in your campaigns yet, try using this list as a checklist and track your progress. Good luck!

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SEO in 2020

SEO in 2020: Basics You Need to Know to Be Successful

By | seo advice for business

In the field of SEO, it’s safe to say that things are always changing.

Optimization techniques that worked years ago fall by the wayside, and SEO as a whole evolves into a more intelligent discipline that evolves beyond spamming Google with links and keywords.

Sophisticated strategies for increasing organic traffic exist, along with things like competitor gap analysis, keyword gap analysis, and so on.

There are a number of strategies that one must use to be successful in the ever-increasing competitive landscape in SEO.

The Absolute Nuts & Bolts Basics:

There are four basic components of SEO that we all focus on as a daily part of our jobs. These components include:

  • Keywords (and keyword targeting).
  • Search volumes behind keywords.
  • Traffic coming from organic search.
  • Conversions of customers searching for our targeted keywords.

The actual techniques revolve around the following:

  • On-page optimization.
  • Link building.
  • Content.
  • Technical SEO.

These are all a focus of our professions as we report on our efforts and assess next steps in any SEO campaign.

How do you move forward through a campaign and make sure that these factors are nailed down sufficiently enough for you to either launch or expand an existing campaign?

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

This SEO for beginners guide is designed to do exactly that, going through in detail the basics, in order to give you a solid foundation with which you can then use on your own.

Topics, Entities & Keywords:

The first basic component we’re going to look at includes keywords and keyword targeting.

In the olden days of SEO, keywords were really all we had. Keywords and keyword targeting. Keyword targeting involved creating pages based on specific keywords and optimizing them.

The content would be laser-targeted and built around this keyword.

As you move forward with your SEO, you could technically include keyword synonyms, and related keywords in such a way that would help improve your rankings.

The problem with keywords, however, is that they can become redundant, too repetitive, and you can run out of SEO pain points in industry-related keywords fast.

There’s very little room to move forward.

For the process of keyword optimization, it used to be executed in the following way.

Say perhaps that you did keyword research, found the highest-performing ones in terms of search volume, created a page for the keyword, and ensured keywords were inter-weaved throughout your content accordingly. This was one way.

Let’s also not forget the different types of keywords, which are many. The goals of these keywords will change depending on how you want to approach your SEO:

  • Money Keywords
  • Head Keywords
  • Short Tail keywords
  • Long Tail Keywords
  • Supporting Keywords / keyword synonyms
  • Branded Keywords
  • Phrase Match Keywords
  • Broad Match Keywords
  • Negative Keywords
  • Exact Match Keywords

And many other keyword types. By the way, don’t get me started on LSI Keywords. Yes, they are a scam. And nothing more than a marketing attempt to brand synonyms and keyword relationships as something else.

That’s why LSI keywords are SEO snake oil.

Why are we going through such a detailed introduction of keywords? Because they are a fundamental skill of the SEO profession.

Recently however, there has been a shift from keywords to topics and entities.

If keywords are specific words and phrases, topics can be considered broader terms and concepts.

While there has been a shift, you still cannot do without keywords. They are the backbone of any SEO strategy.

A new wrench was thrown into the works with the introduction of entities. Just what’re entities, exactly?

Entities are places, persons, things. According to Dave Davies, entities are the world in the new SEO.

And this is why it is so important to ensure that your site is optimized with entities, keywords, and topics.

Topics, Topics, Topics – So What’s the Deal with Topics?

Just what is the deal with topics? As mentioned previously, SEO is traditionally about optimizing for targeted keywords.

And it was – used to be – considered an SEO best practice to create 1 page per single targeted keyword.

You can come up with your topics by performing topic research using a tool like AnswerThePublic.com.

SEMrush also has its own tool called the topic research tool.

Using both of these tools, you should be able to uncover suitable topics for the type of website you are working on.

That’s all well and good, but what should you do if you are optimizing for multiple topics?

Kristopher Jones here on SEJ has a wonderful method on how to optimize your site for multiple topics in his post, How to Optimize Your Website for Multiple Topics.

There are other basics, including content, links, and technical SEO that will make or break your success.

Let’s take a look at some of the most defining factors that will help your SEO in 2020, and basic elements that you must learn.

High-Quality Content:

Does Google’s algorithm suffer from issues when it comes to assessing whether or not content is of high enough quality?

It can, as this SEO found out recently when trying to game Google’s algorithm with Lorem ipsum text.

In general, high quality content is what’s going to help your site perform. But that takes on different forms depending on different attributes of your marketing campaign including:

  • Your site’s main industry.
  • What has been done to your site previously.
  • What is being done to your site now.
  • Your industry’s overall competition.
  • What your competition is doing.
  • What Google’s algorithm is doing.

Your site’s main industry

There are industry variations in SEO – no doubt about it. I highly suggest taking an open approach to SEO strategies, and not think that once you’ve learned a strategy, that you’re done. Not hardly.

Industry norms vary, and can be as different as the website itself. The way you find out about these norms is you should be doing a competitor gap analysis.

What a competitor gap analysis does is it will help you find what you need to do to increase those rankings above your competitor.

You can read more about how to perform a competitor gap analysis here.

The things that you’ll want to gain from your competitor gap analysis includes insights like:

  • Your competitor’s rankings.
  • Your competition’s content (frequency of posting, word counts, etc.).
  • The link profiles of your competitors.
  • And, to a lesser extent, on-page SEO and technical SEO.

Important: Correlation Is Not Causation:

In SEO, you may think that if you make a slight change to some keywords on a site, or you make changes to some links, that an immediate improvement is perceptible, and likely due to that change.

The problem is that it seldom works out that way in the real world.

When it comes to SEO, correlation is not causation. It’s not enough to say that you did this, this, and this, and that that was a contributor to your results.

On the contrary, detailed organic traffic data analysis and interpretation is needed to find the full story.

That’s what makes SEO so complex – the fact that it’s not a simple correlation / causation paradigm.

Instead, SEO is far more complex with layers of algorithms, not to mention the fact that Google makes changes to their algorithms daily.

The ones they choose to announce just so happen to be the most devastating if you’re in any way engaging in spammy practices.

Which brings me to the following topic: white hat SEO vs. black hat SEO.

White Hat SEO vs. Black Hat SEO vs. Grey Hat: Which Hat Should I Choose?

In the field of SEO, there are different philosophies. These philosophies don’t always mesh well. In fact, they can be frustrating for SEOs the world over, because one group believes one thing while another group believes another.

White Hat SEOs follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines to the letter. They believe in implementing techniques that will be sustainable for the long-term, and that won’t cause Google to levy a penalty against them.

The most ethical SEOs are those who provide their clients with everything that they do – they give details, they give the links they build, all of it.

They are ethical and transparent in their SEO duties, and provide reports that the client can take reasonable action on in the future.

Black Hat SEOs are not afraid to embrace the latest and greatest in techniques, regardless of how far astray they lead them from Google’s guidelines.

They are masters of a perpetual churn-and-burn machine, often getting great short-term results, but lacking in long-term results.

It is these Black Hat SEOs who use programs like Scrapebox, SENuke, and XRumer in an attempt to build links en masse, so that these links will, in turn, push their rankings to the #1 spot – until Google catches them and all hell breaks loose.

Then, they just start over with another domain.

Grey Hat is a healthy mix of the two, usually using black hat techniques for research but not execution, and using a white hat approach for sustainable results in the long-term. This is likely where most aggressive SEOs fall.

There’s nothing legally, morally, or inherently wrong with this, but if you want to stay on Google’s good side, you will want to choose white hat or grey hat SEO.

Perform Industry Research, Especially If You Are Not Familiar With Your Client’s Industry:

Doing industry research is the first part.

Your primary source for such industry information should be your client. This is when you should perform some sort of discovery – and ask questions to determine any industry specifics that you should be aware of while doing SEO.

The next part would be figuring out the SEO elements that your competition is using to leverage their SERP performance.

If you can think of improving rankings and organic traffic as a core component of SEO, then the competitor gap analysis is a core component of assessing the next steps in an SEO campaign.

After looking into the industry, and defining your industry benchmarks, you will need to move forward with a site analysis.

This will help you uncover what has been done to the site previously, and what is being done to the site now.

It is imperative that you obtain this information, because one wrong step can cause you major issues in your SEO campaign later.

If you are lucky enough to be on a team that has this information, you can simply ask your team’s manager about the information and they should be able to give it to you on the spot.

However, if you are not quite as lucky, you may end up in the situation where you can’t assess that prior information.

In these cases, what is currently on the site is all you have, and you will have to think about your SEO campaign as moving forward from that point.

Your Competition’s Link Profiles Can Provide Valuable Insight:

Your competition’s link profiles, along with your own, should also be a core component of this analysis.

But, this is where things can get dicey. If you don’t have a good grasp on SEO, what may seem to be obvious in terms of correlation may be entirely different when looked at from the POV of having everything.

This is where the dicey part comes in.

If you don’t do a link analysis, but there are other weaknesses, you may never be 100% certain what was responsible for improving the site.

On the other hand, if you have all of the information, you may still never be 100% sure, but at least you can narrow down the exact root cause of the improvement.

Remember, search is not a simple correlation – correlation is not causation. Just because you added one thing doesn’t mean that that one thing caused said improvement.

On-page SEO & Technical SEO Are Important Factors As Well:

Other important factors you should be aware of include the latest in SEO techniques as they apply to on-page and technical SEO.

On-page optimization includes the following:

  • Optimizing the page to deliver unique value.
  • Optimization for phenomenal user experience (UX).
  • Laser-targeted keyword targeting.
  • Can easily be shared through the social networks.
  • Can transition seamlessly between devices.
  • Is crawler / bot accessible – Google’s Gary Illyes is on record as saying “Just make that damned site crawlable.”
  • Optimizing for authorship, meta data, schema, and rich snippets.

On-page SEO

Technical SEO:

Technical SEO is heavily focused on the crawling and indexing of your site. This is where you can tilt the odds heavily in your favor by making sure your site is properly optimized for crawlers.

This doesn’t have anything to do with content or links, and is highly technical in its implementation.

Technical SEO in 2020 includes the following that you must learn and implement to be successful:

  • Anything and everything to do with robots.txt.
  • Optimization of your navigation and website’s architecture.
  • URL structure optimization.
  • Schema.org Structured Data implementation.
  • Canonicalization of URLs.
  • Error page analysis and correction (4xx, 5xx, 3xx, etc.).
  • Server analysis for bottlenecks that can be costing you SERP performance.
  • SSL implementation for a secure website.
  • Page speed metrics along with individual SEO elements that increase page speed.
  • Mobile-friendliness.
  • Cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility.
  • Code optimization (including W3C aspects like validation, accessibility, and so on).
  • AMP for news publishers (which can cover a broad range of topics).
  • International multilingual implementations.
  • Pagination like next/prev.
  • Internal links.
  • Link Profile analysis to determine penalties or algorithmic adjustments (if any).

Our SEO ebooks can help, including my own book – The Ultimate SEO Audit Checklist.

Optimizing for Search Intent & Ensuring the Intent Matches the Target Query Precisely:

You must target and successfully fulfill user intent in order for your optimization to be successful.

This is a basic SEO practice that has been in use since the early part of the 2010s decade.

You must make sure that your keywords highly meet the user intent for that query.

Which brings us to another important consideration for SEO in 2020 – read and memorize the Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines – this is NOT to mean that you can go off and optimize what they say for organic search.

This is created by an entirely separate department from organic search. But, their manual contains important insights to understanding how Google overall views certain search factors that you can then translate into improving your overall E-A-T – Expertise, Authority, and Trust.

The following SEO factors you must know about are also important:

  • Optimizing for page speed
  • Strategic optimization of your target keywords (this includes within the page title, meta descriptions, H1s, and sub-heading tags)
  • Page URL optimization
  • Optimizing for page speed
  • Image file size
  • Image file names
  • Alternative (alt) text
  • Title Text
  • See my article on image optimization for more.
  • Write your content according to the intelligence level of your target audience
  • Internal link optimization when creating a page of content
  • Including images strategically throughout your text

E-A-T in 2020

Google’s core algorithm update of August 2018 had many people scrambling to understand what had destroyed their website so readily in the SERPs. It’s known as the medic update because it was believed that the update targeted medical sites.

When, in reality, it targeted YMYL (your money or your life) type sites as categorized in Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines.

In fact, it was one of the first updates where no SEO could figure out what happened within the first 60 days.

This update turned out to target the following types of sites:

  • YMYL – Your Money or Your Life – sites
  • Health sites
  • Ecommerce
  • Finance
  • Business
  • Technology
  • Travel
  • Entertainment
  • Coupon / Deal sites
  • Adult Sites

E-A-T in 2020

Why This Is Important for 2020:

This update was a turning point in Google Algorithms that specifically targeted sites for long-term authority and trust. Yes, authority and trust is a big deal.

How do you build authority and trust? By answering the user’s query thoroughly, and mind-mapping your content to achieve this ultimate goal.

In 2020, if you want to build your own sites and make sure that they are SEO friendly, long-term sustainable SEO is even more of a consideration now.

Like Alan Bleiweiss writes elsewhere on Search Engine Journal, you must be the answer to the query.

Answer the user’s question so thoroughly that no one else can catch you competitively speaking.

Bleiweiss reports that mindset failure – or being unable to find what one needs – is a single critical factor you must get right to succeed in SEO.

A Solid Focus on SEO Disciplines Is Needed to Succeed:

You can’t expect to do SEO for a month and achieve amazing results overnight. Seldom does it happen this way.

Instead, you must implement a multi-pronged approach leading to a solid foundation that takes into account many issues across SEO elements to be successful.

A focus on any one thing will only lead to sub-par results that create nothing more than a blip in your Google Analytics data.

An organized approach that focuses on the ultimate in quality is best, while keeping in mind your user’s pain points, wants, needs, and desires as they relate their query.

Be the answer in your industry for your user’s query. And your SERP performance will thank you.

  • More Resources:

SEO Strategy Guide

SEO Strategy Guide: Beat Your Competition in 2020

By | seo advice for business

What’s the secret to winning at SEO in 2020?

If you want to outrank your competition, there are three things you will need:

  • The best content you can produce.
  • The best content distribution plan you can design.
  • And the best site optimization you can muster.

You know you want to excel in them all. And luck is already on your side!

1. Search-Intent Oriented Content

The web has a content problem. There’s just too much of it.

Search Google for literally anything, and the total number of results will be in the hundreds of millions – and it’s an everyday thing.

What’s more, nobody expects all of those results to be good.

However, users expect to see something good on the Page 1 of Google.

Can you imagine digging through those millions of results to find only a dozen that deserve to be displayed there?

That’s what Google does every day, over 79,000 times per second.

Now, users might not occupy themselves with how Google is getting it done. But you, as a website owner, are different: you need to know the ins and outs of online search because you have content to promote.

How does Google decide which pages deserve to be at the top?

There are over 200 major ranking factors, but it all boils down to one thing: who’s the best at being helpful to users. Or, in SEO terms, at satisfying user search intent.

So how do you pull that off?

  • Have a Clear Grasp of What Exactly You Are Offering to Your Users

There was a reason you created your site in the first place. This reason is the foundation of your entire plan.

It could be selling products, or spreading information such as news and research, or maybe entertaining visitors with your original content.

What makes the “why” behind your creation so important?

If you can name it with clarity, then it brings you to the next step of the plan: the kind of people you want to come to your site.

Your relationship with them is going to decide your site’s fate – they are your target audience.

Once the “why” and the “who” are decided, they are followed by the “how”. The reason there are many different types of websites is because some of them are better suited for specific tasks than others.

For example, ecommerce stores are the best for selling products, and blogs are great for sharing articles.

If you aren’t using the best way to present your content to users, you should rethink this part before everything else.

Many site owners stumble on this first step because they don’t think about what they are doing.

Be better than that.

  • Pick Keywords That Will Lead Users to Your Content

Users try out all sorts of search phrases in Google, and only a precious few of them will be any good for your site.

The trick is to find those few phrases and turn them into your chosen keywords. So, how do you know you’ve found what you need?

  • They clearly reflect what you have to offer. Short, vague keywords like “buy boots” won’t be of any use to you. Even if a miracle lets you outrank the big brands, you’ll still risk bringing in users who don’t want the kind of product you have. Try optimizing for more specific phrases like “winter boots for women”.
  • They have a high search volume. The more people use a search phrase in a given area, the more people you can turn into your users. Keywords with a low search volume can also be useful, but only when you use many at once to make up for their individual low potential.

You can find search intent-oriented keywords with the Get Suggestions tool.

  • Proceed to Create High-Quality Content

In spite of how hard it is, people are getting better at making great content, and the quality standards keep rising.

Fortunately, the core principle remains the same: give users the best version of the thing they are looking for.

How do you make such content?

  • Research what the users want, as accurately and in-depth as you can. Users always want more details. If they can get those details from you, then you already have an advantage.
  • Make your content visually appealing. As humans are visual creatures, you should know how to make a good first impression and make it last.
  • Provide the best user experience you can. Let nothing on your site get on the users’ nerves. You are supposed to be helping them and making them feel welcome.
  • Address the users’ pain points. If you revive their problems in their heads, it will make them hungrier for the solutions you are about to offer.
  • Give detailed solutions to the users’ problems. Often users don’t know about all the pitfalls they can encounter on the way to their goal. Be sure to include solutions to those issues too: that’s what real experts do.
  • Seal the deal with a call-to-action.

And if you connect relevant pieces of content on your site with links, you can turn the user journey into a cycle, ensuring they’ll keep using your site (at a later time, if not immediately).

It will be even easier for them the next time, since they are already familiar with the whole process. Example: “people also buy” on ecommerce sites.

2. Keyword Research & Optimization

Have you figured out how to make your users’ dream content?

Great job! You have a good reason to be proud of yourself if you have pulled it off.

Now it’s time for the next step: helping users find your content in search engines. This part requires keywords.

In the previous section, it was said that your content needs to be tailored to users’ search intent. The same applies to keywords.

Phrasing reflects what exactly users are looking for, so keywords phrased with a specific intent in mind are the best at bringing in the audience you need.

Examples:

  • Plumber in my city: Your site is for users from your city who need plumber’s services.
  • How to remove rust off my sink: You provide instructions for removing rust stains from metal surfaces in bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Sell my old books: You buy books (and likely other things too) from people who don’t need them anymore.

What’s the best way to find such keywords?

Most likely, you will be starting with some ideas of your own. But you won’t know if those ideas are good unless you somehow test them out.

That’s where SEO tools come in. This is a job for a keyword finder like Get Suggestions.

Keyword Research

Just enter what you have in mind and press Search. The Google global searches column will show the search volume for every keyword in the table.

Sort the table by this column to make it easier to find the best keywords.

If you plan to rank in and get traffic from a particular region, you can narrow your keyword search down to a specific geographical area in the Settings (or by clicking on Add location).

In this case, the Google global searches will be called Google local searches.

Note the All keywords filter. Clicking on it opens a menu where you can opt to show only regular keywords or only question keywords.

The Question keywords filter is particularly useful if you want to optimize your site for voice search.

There are a couple more ways to find keywords.

  • From Google Search Console: If you have connected your WebCEO project to your Google Search Console account, it will start drawing data from Google. Then you can check out the Keywords from Google Search Console tool for all the various queries that bring your website traffic after being found in search. It will also show the usefulness of each query through statistics such as click-through rates and average ranking positions taken from global data over the past 30 days.
  • From your competitors: This is a two-step process. What keywords do your competitors use to optimize their sites? First, enter their URL address in the Spy on Competitors tool to find out. Add the keywords you’d like to rank for yourself to the keyword basket, then open the Competitor Rankings by Keyword report to check their rankings for those keywords. If you see someone rank poorly for a good keyword, start using it yourself – it’s an easy way to outrank them.

That covers keyword research.

Once you have a list of keywords you want to use, it’s time to optimize your site for them. Make sure to include everything from your list at some point!

  • Page URL addresses.
  • Titles.
  • Meta descriptions.
  • Image filenames, ALT attributes and captions.
  • H1-H4 headings.
  • Anchor texts of internal links.
  • Other text.

3. Competitor Research

How do you measure a site’s success?

You can judge it by its rankings, traffic, conversions, and the revenue it makes.

Ultimately, this SEO strategy is supposed to make you more successful than your rivals in the niche.

I bet you already have your eye on a few competitor websites that you want to beat. And that will be much easier if you can view their metrics whenever you want, too.

There’s also the possibility they aren’t really your rivals, and you need to be fighting someone else.

What’s the word for beating someone at their game only to find out you have won nothing?

“Awkward” is the nicest thing that comes to mind.

Let’s remove all awkwardness from your path to stardom.

Our starting point is the Dangerous Competitors tool.

Click on the Settings button.

Competitor Research

  • Keywords tab: Enter the keywords you intend to rank for.
  • Search engines tab: Select the search engines where you want to rank.
  • Mirrors & Subdomains tab: Enter the URLs of your site’s mirrors and subdomains (if you have any). It will let the tool know that they shouldn’t be considered competitor sites.
  • Competitors tab: Enter the URLs of the competitors you already know.
  • Search results tab: Check the boxes of all types of search results you want to scan.
  • Local searches tab: Select regions like states, counties or provinces to show keyword demand for (if you want to rank somewhere in particular and not just globally).

Once you’ve finished filling everything out, click Save.

Competitor

The tool will generate a graph and a table. Look for the sites that are above yours in the table. They can be your real, most dangerous competitors.

Note the “most likely” part. To be completely sure, visit those sites personally and see if they really specialize in the same field as you.

Irrelevant sites may appear if they happen to rank for the keywords you’ve entered without actually sharing a target audience with your site.

With this, you have discovered your true rivals. Fight them with every trick in the book:

  • Creating content.
  • Promoting content.
  • Providing a superb user experience.
  • Building a cordial relationship with users.
  • Optimizing your site.

And watch the metrics which reflect your progress: there’s no better way to find out if something is wrong.

  • Rankings: compare your ranking positions to theirs for your chosen keywords in the Competitor Rankings by Keyword
  • Backlinks: check the Competitor Link Profile report for everyone’s link profile statistics, including the total number of backlinks and domain authority
  • Traffic: the Competitor Traffic report has everyone’s traffic data for the last 12 months.

Another hugely important matter: competitor backlinks.

If you can look them up, you can find a huge number of sites where you can build backlinks to your own site.

How do you do that?

Just feed your rivals’ URLs to the Competitor Backlink Spy.

Competitor Traffic

Then sort the table by the Domain Trust Flow column to put all the best potential link sources where you can see them.

4. Page Speed Optimization

Something has been bothering me for the longest time. So, electricity travels at the speed of light, right?

The Internet runs on electricity, and data packets move at the same speed. Then how come there isn’t even a single website which can load at the speed of light? It’s unfair.

Of course, humans cannot comprehend such tremendous speeds anyway. So we are perfectly fine with the next best thing, which we usually describe as “in the blink of an eye”.

That’s how fast we want websites to load, and we get really upset when it doesn’t happen.

Fortunately, some people are slow blinkers. That must be why most users are comfortable with a couple of seconds of loading time. Any more can cause a problem.

Scan your site with the Page Speed Insights tool to check its loading speed. If the score is low (100 is excellent), there are plenty of ways to make your site load faster:

  • Host your site on a fast server.
  • Host your site on a CDN.
  • Optimize your images’ dimensions.
  • Save your images in the right format.
  • Compress images.
  • Use fewer elements.
  • Merge elements.
  • Use gzip compression.
  • Leverage browser caching.

Page Speed Optimization

5. Technical Audit

Errors are a nuisance no matter where you encounter them. Users won’t be appreciative if you let your website go.

Would you let garbage pile up in your office where everyone can see it?

Of course you wouldn’t; it would be disrespectful to the people who visit you.

The place where you receive your customers should be kept clean and run like a well-oiled machine. Websites are the same.

What kind of issues on your site could be hurting user experience?

  • Broken links
  • Broken images
  • Broken redirects
  • Server errors
  • Missing meta tags
  • Indexing issues
  • Crawling issues
  • Orphaned pages
  • Dead-end pages
  • Schema markup errors

Look at how many things can go wrong when you are not even looking. But you can’t possibly keep an eye on your site every waking hour.

Good thing there are fully automated tools for such tasks, isn’t it?

I can recommend a couple. The first is the Technical Audit tool.

Technical Audit

You can use it to detect the most common technical issues with your site, and then you can just proceed to fix them.

To make your job easier, you can (and it’s heavily recommended) set this tool to scan your site automatically as often as you want.

Once a week is good, but if you’d rather do it more or less often, it’s up to you. It’s all in the Scan Schedule.

site overview

You can even set the tool to send you alerts when you get site errors.

For that, click on Reports -> Email Alerts in the top menu.

The other tool of importance is the On-Site Issues Overview.

On-Site Issues Overview.

This tool detects SEO errors on your site, such as issues with meta tags (short, repeating or outright missing). It, too, can be set for automatic regular scans and email alerts.

What else do you need to keep your site free of errors?

  • The Robots.Txt File

If you don’t have one in the first place, the On-Site Issues Overview tool will tell you, but there may also be issues with the file itself.

Be sure to check that it’s formatted correctly and that it allows search engines to crawl your site’s content, and prevents them from crawling pages you don’t want to appear in search.

  • Sitemap

If you haven’t uploaded a sitemap, its absence can be picked up by the On-Site Issues Overview, too.

Use a validating tool to make sure your sitemap is formatted correctly.

Also, if your site has more than 50,000 pages, you are going to need at least two sitemaps.

  • Schema Markup Validator

If you are using structured data on your site, you should always test your marked-up pages for errors before rolling them out.

Google has a free Structured Data Testing Tool you can use anytime.

Structured Data Testing Tool

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SEO tips

Important Image SEO Tips

By | seo advice for business

Think about the last time you uploaded an image to your website. Chances are you downloaded it from a stock photography site, uploaded it to the backend of your site, and then inserted it to the page.

This makes a shining example of image optimization, right? Not quite.

You’ve added a giant bowling ball weight to your site that’s slowing down the page speed. And, search engines can’t read your images without alt text.

Let’s change that.

Over 20% of all U.S. web searches happen on Google Images, according to 2018 data from Jumpshot.

SEO amateurs and pros alike know that optimizing images for your website is notoriously worth the time spent.

Dan Morgan at WebSpection got one of his photos to rank #1 in Google Images for “best person in Cardiff” in less than four days by optimizing his image.

And, Robbie Richards generated 150,732 visits by adding image alt tags, compressing images, and a few other SEO tricks.

Without proper image optimization, you’re wasting a valuable SEO asset.

It’s like the search engines are giving away Oreos and milk for free. But, you only take the Oreo. When in reality, the Oreo is way better dunked in milk.

Image optimization creates many advantages such as better user experience, faster page load times, and additional ranking opportunities. And, it’s becoming an increasingly more important role.

But which factors are most important to ensure your images are findable and don’t slow down your site?

Here are 11 important image optimization tips you need to know.

1. Choose the Right Format

Decoding all the various image format can feel like your first time ordering at Taco Bell. But, before you can start adding images to your site, you want to make sure you’ve chosen the best file type.

While there are many image formats to choose from, the PNG and JPEG are the most common for the web.

  • PNG: Produces better quality images, but comes with a larger file size.
  • JPEG: You may lose image quality, but you can adjust the quality level to find a good balance.

For me, PNG is the unsung hero of image formatting. Typically, I only use JPEGs for bigger, more visual images taken by a true photographer. But, for my daily use, PNG is the way to go.

2. Compress Your Images

Yep, hell hath no fury like a bloated web page after uploading an image that’s not compressed.

Search engines will look at your web page like you might look at a big vat of Crisco: You can’t seriously be considering putting that on you your website, right?

According to HTTP Archive, images make up on average 21% of a total webpage’s weight.

That’s why I highly recommend compressing your images before uploading to your site. You can do this in Photoshop or you can use a tool like TinyPNG. TingPNG also has a WordPress plugin you can use too.

However, I prefer WP Smush as my WordPress plugin. It reduces the image file size without removing the quality. Whatever plugin you use, make sure to find one that compresses the images externally on their servers. It reduces the load on your own site.

Increasingly.com improved website speed by 33% / 2 seconds by compressing images.

I mean, there’s just something sexy about faster page speed when after you compress your images.

If you’re unsure how your images are affecting your page speed, I recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

3. Create Unique Images

You want your photos to pop on your site. If you fill your website with stock imagery, you’ll look unoriginal – like thousands of other sites that don’t stand out.

Too many websites are cluttered with the same generic stock photos.

Think about a corporate website, a consulting firm, a business that prides itself on customer service. All these websites use virtually the same looking stock image of a businessman smiling.

I’m sure you’ve seen one that looks like this:

Create Unique Images

While you may have your stock images perfectly optimized, it won’t have the same impact or potential SEO benefits as an original, high-quality image.

The more original pictures you have, the better experience for the user and the better your odds are of ranking on relevant searches.

4. Beware of Copyright

Regardless of the image files you choose to use, make sure there’s no copyright conflict.

The Postal Service is paying $3.5 million in an image copyright lawsuit. And, Sketchers got sued for $2.5 million.

If Getty, Shutterstock, DepositFiles, or some other stock photo provider owns an image you use, and you don’t have a license to use it, then you’re risking an expensive lawsuit.

Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), you could be issued a notice if you have violated any copyright issues. If the owner of a piece of content sees their content on your website, they can issue a DMCA Takedown which you must comply with.

Google Images allows you to filter results based on those available for reuse. And, Mindy Weinstein shares 41 different websites to find free images.

5. Customize Image File Names

When it comes to SEO, creating descriptive, keyword-rich file names is absolutely crucial.

Not customizing your image file name is like getting a burrito with nothing in it. It just plain sucks.

Image file names alert Google and other search engine crawlers as to the subject matter of the image.

Typically, file names will look like “IMG_722019” or something similar. That’s like ordering from a menu in a different language. It doesn’t help Google.

Change the file name from the default to help the search engines understand your image and improve your SEO value.

This involves a bit of work, depending on how extensive your media library is, but changing the default image name is always a good idea. Let’s take this image of chocolate for example:

Customize Image File Names

I could name it simply “chocolate” but if you sell chocolate on your website, potentially every image can be named “chocolate-1,” “chocolate-2,” and so on.

I named this image “dark-chocolate-coffee” to let users and search engines understand the image.

6. Write SEO-Friendly Alt Text

Alt tags are a text alternative to images when a browser can’t properly render them. Similar to the title, the alt attribute is used to describe the contents of an image file.

When the image won’t load, you’ll get an image box with the alt tag present in the top left corner. Make sure they fit with the image and make the picture relevant.

Paying attention to alt tags is also beneficial to the overall on-page SEO strategy. You want to make sure that all other optimization areas are in place, but if the image fails to load for any reason, users will see what the image is supposed to be.

Plus, adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website can help your website achieve better rankings in the search engines by associating keywords with images. Even Google has remarked on the value of alt text in images.

It provides Google with useful information about the subject matter of the image. We use this information to help determine the best image to return for a user’s query.

Alt text is required under the American Disabilities Act for individuals who are unable to view images themselves. A descriptive alt text can alert users exactly what is in the photo. For example, say you have a picture of chocolate on your website.

The alt text could read:

<img src=”chocolate-1.jpg” alt=”chocolate”/>

However, a better alternative text that describes the image would read:

<img src=”chocolate-1.jpg” alt=”dark chocolate coffee flavored bar”/>

Alt text is viewable in the cached text version of the page, aiding in its benefit to both users and the search engines. For further SEO value, the alt text can act as the anchor text of an internal link when the image links to a different page on the site.

7. Think About the Image File Structure

In 2018, Google updated its Image Guidelines. One of the major updates they revealed was that they use the file path and file name to rank images.

Repeat: The file path and file name is an actual ranking factor.

For example, if you’re an ecommerce brand with multiple products, instead of placing all your product images into a generic /media/ folder, I would recommend structuring your subfolders to more category related topics like /shorts/ or /denim/.

8. Make Your Page Title & Description

Google also revealed that it uses your page title and description as part of its image search algorithm.

All of your basic on-page SEO factors like meta data, header tags, copy on the page, structured data, etc. affects the way Google ranks your images.

It’s like putting all your toppings on your burrito. It tastes way better with guac. So, make sure to add the guac for improving image rankings.

9. Define Your Dimensions

If you’re using AMP or PWAs, you are required to define your image dimensions in the source code.

However, if you’re not using either, it’s still a best practice to define the width and height. It provides a better user experience.

Plus, it allows the browsers to size the image before the CSS is loaded. This stops the page from jumping when it loads.

10. Make Your Images Mobile-Friendly

Oh, mobile SEO. At its worst, it can give you a high bounce rate and low conversions. But, at its best, it can give you more ranking power and better user engagement.

Problem is, how do you optimize your images for the mobile-first index?

You create responsive images. This means the image will scale with the size of the site whether the user is using desktop or mobile. It adjusts to the size of the device.

11. Add Images to Your Sitemap

Whether you’re adding your images to your sitemap or creating a new sitemap for images, you want images somewhere in your sitemaps.

Having your images in a sitemap greatly increases the chances of search engines crawling and indexing your images. Thus, results in more site traffic.

If you’re using WordPress, Yoast offers a sitemap solution in their plugin.

Image Optimization Key Takeaways

So, before you begin uploading your image to your site, make sure to follow the image optimization rituals from above.

The most important thing is to make sure the image and alternative text are relevant to the page. Other key takeaways:

  • Choose the right file format. PNGs are my favorite for screenshots.
  • Reduce file size for faster page load speed.
  • Make sure your on-page SEO elements (meta data, structured data, etc.) pair with your image.
  • For crawlability, create an image sitemap or make sure your images are featured in your sitemap.

Optimizing images are no joke. With advancements in voice search technology, media is a growing importance and your entire site will benefit from taking the steps above.

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Essential On-Page SEO Factors

Essential On-Page SEO Factors

By | seo advice for business

Succeeding in organic search today requires optimizing for a combination of factors that search engines consider important – technical, on-page and off-page.

Over the years, we’ve seen increased focus toward off-page techniques – such as link building – and other technical elements.

But the reality is, off-page SEO won’t do much good if you don’t pay attention to the fundamentals – on-page SEO.

Smart SEO practitioners know that on-page optimization should be constantly prioritized.

And because the search landscape is ever-evolving, it’s important to make sure your on-page SEO knowledge is up to date.

In this post, we will cover what on-page SEO is, why it matters, and 10 of the most important on-page SEO considerations today.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web pages to improve a website’s search engine rankings and earn organic traffic.

In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing your headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images. It also means making sure your website has a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

It takes into account various aspects of the webpage that, when added together, will improve your website’s visibility in the search results.

Why On-Page SEO Is Important

On-page SEO is important because it helps search engines understand your website and its content, as well as identify whether it is relevant to a searcher’s query.

As search engines become more sophisticated, there is a greater focus toward relevance and semantics in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google, with its plethora of complex algorithms, is now much better at:

  • Understanding what users are actually searching for when they type a query.
  • Delivering search results that meet user intent (informational, shopping, navigational).

Adapting to this development is essential, and you can do it by ensuring that your website and its content – both what is visible to users on your webpages (i.e., text, images, video, or audio) and elements that are only visible to search engines (i.e., HTML tags, structured data) – are well-optimized according to the latest best practices.

Additionally, you can’t simply ignore on-page SEO because you have more control when optimizing for on-site elements – as opposed to off-page SEO that consists of external signals (i.e., backlinks).

If you put effort into on-page strategies, you’ll see a boost in traffic and a rise in your search presence.

This guide will walk you through the most important elements of on-page SEO.

Paying close attention to these 10 areas will help improve your content and authority – and increase your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

1. E-A-T:

E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is the framework that Google raters use to assess content creators, webpages, and websites as a whole.

Google has always put a premium on high-quality content. It wants to make sure that sites producing high-quality content are rewarded with better rankings and sites that create low-quality content get less visibility.

There is a clear relationship between what Google considers high-quality content and what appears in the search results.

Call it correlation or causation – whatever it is, E-A-T is somehow playing a role in Google’s organic search results. Which means E-A-T must be a consideration in your SEO strategy.

2. Title Tag:

The title tag, an HTML tag that exists in the head section of each webpage, provides an initial cue or context as to what the topical subject matter is of the respective page it is on.

It is featured prominently in the search engine results pages (typically used as the clickable link) as well as in the browser window.

The title tag by itself has little impact on organic rankings, this why it’s sometimes overlooked.

That said, missing, duplicate, and poorly written title tags can all negatively impact your SEO results, so make sure you’re optimizing for this element.

3. Meta Description

Since the early days of SEO, meta descriptions have been an important optimization point.

Meta descriptions, meta tags that provide a description of what the page is about, are often displayed in the SERPs underneath the title of the page.

While Google maintains that meta descriptions don’t help with rankings, there is anecdotal evidence that indirect attributes of better descriptions do help.

Optimizing meta description correctly can help improve:

  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Perception of the quality of the result.
  • Perception of what your website offers all change.

4. Headlines

Want your website content to perform well on search? Then start writing compelling headlines.

Coming up with a title for a blog post might seem too basic, but a great headline can mean the difference between a click and an impression – that’s why it’s important to create them strategically.

Your headlines need to spark interest for it to stand out on the SERPs – enticing users to click through and continue reading the rest of the content.

5. Header Tags

Header tags are HTML elements (H1-H6) used to identify headings and subheadings within your content from other types of text (e.g., paragraph text).

Header tags aren’t as critically important for your site rankings as they used to be, but these tags still serve an important function – for your users and your SEO.

They can indirectly impact your rankings by:

  • Making your content easier and more enjoyable for visitors to read.
  • Providing keyword-rich context about your content for the search engines.

6. SEO Writing

SEO writing means writing content with both search engines and users in mind.

There is a strategy behind writing solid SEO content – and it is more than just keyword research and fill in the blanks.

Simply producing content for the sake of it won’t do. Remember that you’re writing content for people – therefore that content must be high-quality, substantial, and relevant.

7. Keyword Cannibalization

True or false? The more pages you have targeting a keyword, the better you’ll rank for that keyword.

False!

Targeting a specific term across multiple pages can cause “keyword cannibalization” which has some potentially disastrous consequences for your SEO.

When you have multiple pages ranking for the same keyword, you’re actually competing with yourself.

It’s important to identify whether keyword cannibalization exists on your website and resolve it right away.

8. Content Audit

Most content creators are focused on creating new content that they forget to audit their existing content. And this is a mistake.

Auditing your existing content is crucial because it helps you:

  • Evaluate whether your existing content is achieving its goals and gaining ROI.
  • Identify whether the information in your content is still accurate or has become stale (or even outdated).
  • Determine what types of content are working for you.

Content audits can greatly help your SEO strategy and they should be done on a regular basis.

9. Image Optimization

Adding images is a good way to make your webpages more appealing. But not all images are created equal – some can even slow down your website.

Optimizing images properly will help you make the most of a valuable SEO asset.

Image optimization has many advantages, such as:

  • Additional ranking opportunities (show up on Google Image Search).
  • Better user experience.
  • Faster page load times.

Images shouldn’t be an afterthought. Make sure to incorporate images that support your content and use descriptive titles and alt text.

10. User Engagement

Enhancing your website’s on-page SEO elements is only half the battle.

The other half lies in making sure that users will not bounce – but instead, they’ll continue viewing your content, interacting with it, and keep coming back for more.

Retaining engaged users is a great challenge in itself, but it’s certainly doable. To increase user engagement, focus on aspects such as site speed, user experience, and content optimization, among others.

Get Our Complete Guide to On-Page SEO

We’ve only just scratched the surface. Ready to go much deeper?

The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO, tackles the top on-page SEO factors that impact your pages’ visibility on the SERPs. networkingbizz.com

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Guide to SEO Reports: Which Metrics Matter & How to Use Them

By | seo advice for business

There is an overwhelming amount of data available to SEO professionals.

Some of it is useful, but a lot is not.

It can be tempting to report on data that doesn’t provide insight. We may have seen data used in someone else’s SEO report, or it’s a metric we’ve heard about a lot.

The reality is, unless you are careful, reports can become meaningless data-dumps.

Metrics used should be key performance indicators. If they don’t help identify if performance is improving or not, they shouldn’t be included.

What Is the Report For?

When creating reports we must identify what the report should show.

  • Is it a report of overall organic performance?
  • Are we reporting on the technical health of the website or the outcome of outreach work?

This should form the starting point from which we choose the report metrics.

Aspects of a Good SEO Report

A good SEO report will help communicate insight and the next steps.

It should have sufficient detail to help the reader make decisions.

Include Relevant Data

Reports should include data that is relevant to the topic being reviewed.

They should not overwhelm a reader with unnecessary information.

Keep Them Brief

Reports should be brief enough that pertinent data and insight is easy to find.

Brevity might be the difference between a report being read and being ignored.

Keep the data being reported on succinct.

Sometimes a chart will better illustrate the data than a table of it.

Remember the Audience

Reports should be tailored to the needs of the recipient.

It may be the report is being produced for another SEO professional, or the managing director of the company. These two audiences may need very different data to help explain the progress of SEO activity.

The needs of the report’s reader to make a decision and identify the next steps must be considered. A fellow SEO may need the detail of which pages are returning a 404 server error, the managing director likely won’t.

Make Them Easy to Understand

They should not include unexplained jargon or expect readers to infer meaning from statistics.

Write reports with the recipient’s knowledge in mind.

Liberal use of jargon for someone not in the industry might put them off reading a report.

Conversely, jargon and acronyms will be fine for someone who knows SEO and can help keep reports brief.

Keep Them Impartial

SEO reports are a form of internal marketing. They can be used to highlight all of the good SEO work that’s been carried out.

Reports should be honest and unbiased, however. They shouldn’t gloss over negatives.

Decreases in performance over time can highlight critical issues. These shouldn’t be omitted from the report because they don’t look good. They are a perfect way of backing up your expert recommendations for next steps.

Provide Insight

Data alone is likely to be unhelpful to most.

Reports shouldn’t just be figures.

Insight and conclusion must be drawn, too.

This means that as an SEO expert we should be able to add value to the report by analyzing the data. Our conclusions can be presented as actions or suggestions for a way forward.

Reporting on Metrics Correctly

Metrics used incorrectly can lead to poor conclusions being made. An example of this is “site-wide bounce rate”.

A bounce is typically measured as a visit to a website that only led to one page being viewed and no other interactions occurring. Bounce rate is the percentage of all visits to the site that ended up as a bounce.

The bounce rate of a page can be useful, but only really if it is being compared with something else.

For instance, if changes have been made to a page’s layout and bounce rate increases it could point to there being a problem with visitors navigating with the new layout.

However, reporting on bounce rate of a page without looking deeper at other metrics can be misleading.

For instance, if the changes to the page were designed to help visitors find information more easily then the increase in bounce rate could be an indicator of the new design’s success.

The difference in bounce rate cannot be used in isolation as a measure of success.

Similarly, reporting on the average bounce rate across the entire website is usually misleading.

Some pages on the website might have a high bounce rate but be perfectly fine. For example:

  • A contact page might see a lot of visitors bounce as they find a phone number and leave the site to call it.
  • A home page or product page with a high bounce rate is usually a sign that the page is not meeting the needs of users, however.

Reports should look to draw conclusions from a range of metrics.

Few metrics can be used in isolation and still enable accurate insight to be drawn.

Over-Reliance on Metrics

There are other metrics that are relied on a little too much in SEO reports. Measures of the authority of a page or domain for instance.

These third-party metrics do well to guess the ranking potential of a page in the eyes of the search engines, but they are never going to be 100% accurate.

They can help to show if a site is improving over time, but only against the algorithm of that reporting tool.

These sorts of metrics can be useful for SEO professionals to use, but can cause problems when reported to managers, clients, and stakeholders.

If they are not properly prepped on what these scores mean it is easy for them to hold on to them as the goal for SEO. They are not.

Well-converting organic traffic is the goal. The two metrics will not always correlate.

Which Metrics Matter?

Which metrics should be used together to illustrate SEO performance depends on the purpose of the report. It also depends on what the recipient wants to see.

Some clients or managers may be used to receiving reports with certain metrics in them. It may be that the SEO reports feed into their own reporting and as such, they expect to see certain metrics.

It is a good idea to find out from the report recipient if there is anything in particular they would like to know.

The report should always link back to the brand’s business and marketing goals. The metrics used in the report should communicate if the goals are being met.

For instance, if a pet store’s marketing goal is to increase sales of “non-slip pet bowls” then metrics to include in the SEO report could be:

  • Overall traffic to the pages in the www.exampledomain.com/pet-accessories/bowls/non-slip folder.
  • Organic traffic to those pages.
  • Overall and organic conversions on these pages.
  • Overall and organic sales on these pages.
  • Bounce rate of each of these pages.
  • Traffic volume landing on these pages from the organic SERPs.

Over time this report will help identify if SEO is contributing to the goal of increasing sales of non-slip pet bowls.

Organic Performance Reports

These are reports designed to give a picture of the ongoing performance of SEO of a website. They give top-level insight into the source and behavior of organic traffic over time.

They should include data that indicates if the business, marketing and SEO goals are being met.

An SEO performance report should look at the organic search channel both on its own and in relation to other channels.

By doing this we can see the impact of other channels on the success of SEO. We can also identify any trends or patterns.

These reports should allow the reader to identify the impact of recent SEO activity on organic traffic.

Metrics to Include

Some good metrics to report on for organic performance reports include:

  • Overall visits: The number of visits to the website gives something to compare the organic search visits to. We can tell if organic traffic is decreasing whereas overall traffic is increasing or if organic traffic is growing despite an overall drop in traffic. It is possible to use overall traffic visit data to discern if there is seasonality in the website’s popularity.
  • Traffic visits by channel: The number of visits coming from each marketing channel helps you identify if there is any impact from other channels on SEO performance. For instance, new PPC ads going online could mean cannibalization of organic search traffic.
  • All traffic and organic traffic goal completions: Have visitors been completing the goals set up in the website’s analytics software? Comparing organic and other traffic goal completions will again help identify if the organic traffic is completing above or below average goal completions compared to other channels. This could help determine if SEO activity is having as much of a positive effect as hoped.
  • Page level traffic: If there are certain pages that have been worked on recently, such as new content or keyword optimization, include organic traffic metrics for them. This means going granular in your reporting. Report on organic traffic over time, conversions on the pages (if appropriate) and actions carried out from that page. This can show if recent work has been successful in increasing organic traffic to those pages or not.
  • Organic landing page sessions: The pages that visitors arrived on from the organic SERPs. This identifies which pages are bringing the most organic traffic to the website. From here, pages that have not been optimized but show potential to drive traffic can be identified.

Google Analytics

Keyword Ranking Reports

A note on keyword rankings reports. Consider what they are showing before including them.

An overall report of “your site is ranking for X keywords” doesn’t give any useful insight or fuel for a way forward.

  • Which keywords?
  • Are those keywords driving traffic to the site?
  • Are they worth optimizing for further?
Metrics to Include

Keyword ranking reports should demonstrate growth or decline in rankings for specific keywords the site is being optimized for.

Ideally, data should be pulled from first-party tools like Google Search Console to give as accurate an indication of ranking as possible.

Technical Performance Reports

Good SEO performance requires a website that can be crawled and indexed easily by the search engines.

This means that regular audits need to be carried out to identify anything that might prevent the correct pages from appearing in the SERPs.

Reports are slightly different from audits in that a technical audit will look at a lot of different factors and investigate them.

A thorough technical audit can be vast. It needs to diagnose issues and methods of improving the site’s performance.

Depending on the audience of a technical report it may need to selectively highlight the issues. It should also show the success of previous SEO work.

The key to knowing which metrics to include in a technical report is understanding what’s happened on the site so far.

If work has been carried out on the site recently to fix an issue include metrics that indicate the success of that fix.

For instance, if there has been a problem with a spider trap on the site that has been fixed, then report on crawl metrics and log files.

This might not be necessary for every technical report, but it can be useful in this instance.

If the site has problems with loading slowly, then metrics about load speed will be crucial for the technical report.

If the site has had problems with being mobile-friendly then reporting on metrics such volume of Google Search Console mobile usability errors over time can indicate if it is improving.

A good way to convey the metrics in a technical SEO report is by including prioritization of actions.

If the metrics show that there are some urgent issues, mark them as such. If they are issues that can wait or be fixed over time, highlight this.

Technical SEO can feel overwhelming for people who aren’t experts in it.

Breaking down the issues into priorities can make your reports more accessible and actionable.

Metrics to Include

There are certain metrics that may be useful to include as part of a technical performance report:

  • Server response codes: It can be prudent to keep track over time of the number and percentage of pages returning a non-200 response code. An audit of the site should determine exactly which pages are not returning a 200 response code. This information may not be useful to the recipient of the technical performance report so it may be better to include it as an appendix or not at all. If the volume of non-200 response codes reduces over time this can be a good indicator that technical issues on the site are being fixed. If it goes up then it can be summarized that further work needs to be carried out.
  • Page load speed times: It can be helpful to report on an average of page load speed times across the site over time. This can indicate if the site’s load speed is improving or not. What is perhaps even more useful to report on is the average load speed of the top five fastest and five slowest pages. This can help to show if there are certain templates that are very quick as well as the pages that might need further improvement.
  • Any data that shows a need to act: This is really important to include. If an error on a site is going to prevent it from being indexed then this needs to be highlighted in the report. This might be different from report to report. Metrics could be crawl data, site down-time, broken schema mark-up, etc.

Link Building Reports

A link building campaign can yield benefits for a website beyond boosting its authority with the search engines.

If done well, links should also drive traffic to the website. It is important to capture this information on link building reports too as it is a good measure of success.

Metrics to Include
  • URLs of links gained – which links have been gained in the reporting period.
  • Which links have been gained through link building activity – of the links gained which ones can be directly attributed to outreach efforts.
  • Links driving traffic – of the links gained during the period which ones have resulted in referral traffic and what is the volume of visits.

You may be tempted to include a page or domain strength score in these reports. If that helps to communicate the effectiveness of an outreach campaign that’s understandable.

Do remember however that links from highly relevant websites will still benefit your site even if they do not have high authority.

Don’t let your outreach efforts be discarded because the links gained don’t score high with these metrics.

Conclusion

Which metrics to include in a report is determined by what the report is for.

Identify which goals are being influenced by SEO activity and report using the metrics that show success or failure.

Remember to stay clear of data that is not helping identify this. It can be misleading and prevent the message from being communicated.

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Essential Features Every SEO Platform Should Incorporate

Essential Features Every SEO Platform Should Incorporate

By | seo advice for business

SEO platforms have evolved from glorified ranking tools to full-scale platforms that manage SEO end to end.

But it can’t stop there.

Meanwhile, Google’s free Google Search Console (GSC) service has come a long way by incorporating additional data and displaying changes in month-over-month traffic and organic performance.

In fact, the new GSC provides:

  • 16 months of search traffic data.
  • Detailed information about a specific page – including index coverage, canonical URL and mobile usability.
  • Flow tracking to help monitor, fix, and request a recrawl of pages affected by crawling issues.

GSC v. SEO Platforms

While GSC does not currently provide content analysis, I think this will change as Google integrates additional tools to help users create better content experiences.

I think GSC will soon be so advanced, it will be like an operating system (OS) for the web.

Think of it like the Windows OS, which flags errors in real-time and provides recommended fixes – including diagnostic tools with helpful guides to walk you through the repair process – and optimization tips and techniques for better performance overall.

What’s more, Windows OS has programs like Word for creative direction in writing and grammar and PowerPoint for design and audiovisuals.

And, as structured data feeds become imperative for site owners, GSC will likely be able to offer creative/presentational alerts for website content, kind of like a quality score.

But I still don’t think GSC will replace SEO platforms.

Instead, I expect to see more integration with Google’s products by enterprise-level platforms because Google is a source of truth for data and therefore a source of desirable tools as well.

That being said, SEO platforms must continue to evolve alongside Google to remain competitive.

Some platforms have changed their models to be more service-oriented, incorporating professional services like content creation to their data and insights. It’s like one-stop shopping, which is where the industry is heading overall.

Here’s what else I’d like to see from SEO platforms this year.

1. SERP Changes:

Monitoring changes in SERPs is usually done by third-party tools, which is yet one more tool for SEO managers to monitor.

Instead, SEO platforms should build this into their systems.

This way, they can show clients how SERPs are changing, which could indicate Google is testing something or an update is coming, right from the platform itself.

2. Real-Time Reporting – and Apps

SEO platforms also need real-time data reporting functionality.

So, for example, during the critical end-of-year holiday period, a retailer could log on to the platform – or even an app – to get real-time data on SEO performance and make necessary changes that much faster.

And SEO platforms that offer apps would make it all that much easier for brands and agencies to get real-time data on SEO performance even quicker.

Another great feature would be if SEO platforms enabled real-time alerts for changes or problems.

Some platforms are starting to build this capability, but it’s time for all of them to get on the bandwagon because I have seen a lot of standalone tools start to pop up that offer these features at more reasonable price points.

3. Goal Reporting:

Every brand and agency have monthly, quarterly, and annual goals.

SEO platforms should have goal reporting functionality that mirrors this timeframe so marketers can see if they are on target to hit their goals.

They should also offer recommendations for clients who don’t hit these goals and what they need to do to improve their sites.

And I don’t mean generic recommendations – I mean real recommendations based on data.

4. Actionable Recommendations:

SEO platforms charge thousands of dollars each month.

To justify this cost, they need to start providing more actionable recommendations.

Most SEO platforms give generic suggestions their users likely already know, such as pointing out a keyword is missing from a title.

In other words, instead of telling a client they should have structured data, I believe SEO platforms should empower users to create and test structured data directly on the platform and implement it on their websites.

I want an SEO platform that can read the content on my page and recommend a title with the keyword, so all I have to do is push a button to optimize.

With advancements in machine learning, SEO platforms should be able to upload the new title directly onto my site, regardless of what CMS I’m using.

In addition, the platform should be continuously monitoring and retaining the title that performs best based on click-through rates of previous versions.

5. Video Metrics:

Video is a great tool to help consumers understand your product or service.

Video builds brand awareness by up to 74%, according to video production company Filmless.

In fact, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world, per Google, and 75% of users visit brands’ websites after viewing a video on the site, Filmless says.

Because video is in such great demand, SEO platforms should provide more reporting on related metrics, like:

  • View counts.
  • Play rates.
  • Engagement.
  • Social sharing.
  • Click-through rates.
  • Conversion rates.
  • Average completion rate.
  • Viewer feedback (i.e., “I liked this video because it showed how to build a staircase in 20 easy steps.”)

In addition, Google determined 53% of users will click off a mobile page it if takes more than 3 seconds to load, so SEO platforms should offer metrics for load speeds, too.

Many SEO platforms offer some of these features, but they could all be more robust.

6. No Extra Charge:

It would also be nice if enterprise-level platforms did not charge extra for new features or if they offered new features at a more reasonable cost.

In my opinion, new features should be included in the platform price tag because brands and agencies already pay a pretty penny.

Adding additional fees might make the platform cost-prohibitive – particularly when they are planning for the future.

That means everybody loses: SEO platforms miss out on renewals and clients potentially miss out on critical new features like content analysis.

Conclusion:

There are some great SEO platforms on the market that help digital marketers manage SEO end to end and provide tools to increase clients’ visibility and drive more high-quality traffic to their websites.

But they must continue to evolve with additional features that serve brand and agency needs so these clients don’t have to seek out tools elsewhere.

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Improve Your Website Navigation: Essential Best Practices

By | Website Design Advice

Website navigation, when done right, is great for your users and your SEO performance.

Good website navigation makes it easy for your visitors to find what they want and for search engines to crawl. The result: more conversions and greater search visibility.

But how do you actually do it? By using these website navigation best practices.

What Is Website Navigation?

Website navigation (a.k.a., internal link architecture) are the links within your website that connect your pages. The primary purpose of website navigation is to help users easily find stuff on your site.

Search engines use your website navigation to discover and index new pages. Links help search engines to understand the content and context of the destination page, as well as the relationships between pages.

Users come first. This is the underlying objective of website navigation you must always remember.

Satisfy users first. Make navigation easy. Then, optimize for search engines without hurting the user experience.

If you more basic information on website navigation, you’ll find these SEJ posts helpful:

  • Internal Link Structure Best Practices to Boost Your SEO by Corey Morris
  • Your Essential Guide to Internal Content Linking by Julia McCoy

The remainder of this post will maintain a broader focus on website navigation best practices, outlining various internal linking situations that can cause issues for your website visitors and search engines.

This topic will be especially relevant and important for anyone working on large websites.

Website Navigation & Content Hierarchies:

When searching for a specific page within a book, you can simply read through the table of contents or the index.

When you walk around the grocery store, the aisles are labeled with general section categories and more subcategories are listed on the shelves themselves.

Both provide an efficient way to navigate through a lot of content.

Content hierarchies exist to simplify the process of locating content. When a mass amount of content exists, it can be broken down into a few broad categories.

Within those broad categories, you can create even narrower classifications; this builds differing hierarchical levels that users can easily navigate.

Utilizing content hierarchies organizes pages of a website in a way that makes sense to the user and the search engine.

contenthierarchy

Importance of Content Hierarchies & Website Navigation:

The categorization and sub-categorization of content help pages improve in rank for general head terms and for specific long-tail terms.

ContentHierarchyandSEO

Problems Caused by Content Hierarchies:

Categorization of content and building hierarchies create content silos, like clusters of closely related topics. Google will crawl different pages at different rates, following links from different sites.

Some content silos are more popular than others. These pages may get more external links and traffic than others and, as a result, earn more prominent positions in organic search.

When content is too siloed and fails to get links and traffic, it might not perform as well – even if your other content silos perform extremely well.

The content hierarchies can isolate certain popular page clusters that may be located too deep within the site.

This is where horizontal linking comes into play.

As much as link relevancy helps in ranking, the lack of cross-linking between content silos can be detrimental to your overall rankings.

There are always ways to create relationships that horizontally link categories to one another. The fact that all pages belong to the same website already indicates that these pages are not completely irrelevant to each other.

crosslinks

Action Items: Linking Between Content Categories:

  • Categorize content in a way that forms category hierarchies that make sense to the user and interlink these pages properly, going up and down the hierarchy. These are the majority of the links.
  • Create cross-linking between pages that are under different categories but still have similarities.

Links Between Product & Content Marketing Pages:

Companies selling more than one product or service will do everything mentioned above on categorizing the pages, creating content silos, and interlinking them.

However, many SEO teams and content teams also create assets that are designed to be compelling and shareable. Oftentimes, this comes in the form of a blog, with posts containing links to specific products and services.

Blog posts can be useful because they direct more traffic toward product pages. However, many sites fail to link the product pages back to the blog pages.

Using this type of horizontal linking helps inform users about your product or service and increases your SEO performance.

blogandproducts

Action Items: Linking Between Product and Content Pages:

  • Product pages should also link back to related content marketing pages. This may include blog posts, FAQs, and product manuals.

Website Navigation Using JavaScript Effects:

Occasionally, links and web pages are written in JavaScript. This is a problem because search engines have difficulty locating internal links that are created in JavaScript.

Although Google has improved in recent years in terms of reading JavaScript, SEO specialists have concluded that results are inconsistent.

Other search engines still have no capabilities when it comes to reading JavaScript. This means your internal linking could be completely lost when search engines crawl your content.

The SEO world is divided over whether using JavaScript is practical.

  • On the one hand, some SEO experts avoid JavaScript altogether.
  • On the other hand, web designers and usability experts claim that JavaScript is essential to the user experience.

I believe there is a middle ground where JavaScript can be used while avoiding any SEO issues.

Links That Display and Hide Content Already on the Page:

JavaScript can be used to display and hide certain content on a page without actually changing the page you are on. When this happens, all of your content is pre-loaded to the page.

In this case, search engines are still able to crawl all of your content, even when some of it is hidden. This is only successful when the amount of content that is hidden remains minor; it can become problematic when the entire page changes but the URL remains the same.

Problems arise because of the fact that when you hide too much content within one URL, it dilutes the content focus of what that page is all about. A completely different topic should have its own page.

Action Items: Links That Display and Hide Content:

  • For small amounts of content, remove the anchor tag and replace with a JavaScript onclick event handler.
  • Use CSS to control the cursor and change from an arrow to a hand pointer.
  • For large amounts of content, including single-page parallax scrolling websites, not all content should be pre-loaded.
  • Only pre-load content directly related to the URL.
  • For all anchor tags, there should be an href value and an onclick setting.
  • This href value leads to a new URL that only pre-loads the content related to this new URL.
  • The onclick function will prevent the new URL from loading but will allow content from the destination URL to load.
  • Use the pushState function to update the URL even if that page did not load.

Clarity

A more in-depth presentation of how this can be specifically implemented on websites is explained well in this presentation done at seoClarity in 2016.

It specifically talks about AngularJS, a popular JavaScript framework, and its SEO issues and solutions. However, the lessons here are also applicable to almost any JavaScript framework.

Using Tracking Parameters in the URL:

Usability experts and conversion optimization specialists track user behavior in different ways. Sometimes, this involves using tracking parameters in URLs within the site.

This causes duplicate content issues due to linking to different URLs that have the exact same content. This can be resolved in a number of ways.

Action Items: Tracking Parameters in URLs

  • Avoid using tracking parameters in the URL. Instead, track these by using JavaScript tracking onclick event handlers on links that will pass the same tracking parameters. If using Google Analytics, this can be done with event tracking.
  • Always using a self-referencing canonical tag is a good practice to have to avoid many kinds of duplicate content issues.

The First Link Priority

A web page that contains two or more links leading to the same URL is believed to cause issues in search engine crawling where only the first link is considered and the duplicate link is disregarded.

This has been discussed in forums and tested in 2008 by a number of people, including Rand Fishkin and myself.

first-anchor-text-counts

A few things worth mentioning:

  • In 2014 Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s spam team, said this is no longer an issue. I have yet to test this again and I haven’t seen any other SEO professionals test this recently.
  • When this was first tested and detected to be an issue, the HTML version was 4.1, XHTML 1.1 was on the rise, and HTML 5 did not yet exist. Today, HTML 5 exists with tags like <header>, <article>, and <sidebar>. Maybe this time Google treats links in the header, sidebar, and article tags.

SEO Issues That Arise From the First Link Priority:

Top-bar navigation and left side-bar often comes first within the source code before the main content. Additionally, navigational elements in these menus often have short anchor text. They tend to be less keyword focused and more design focused.

Links within the main content of a page have a tendency to be more keyword focused, with surrounding content that supports the keyword. They are also more flexible in length, with longer, more specific anchor text; this longer text increases the variety of keywords that a page can potentially rank for. However, because of first link priority issues, these links are often overlooked by search engines.

Action Items: First Link Priority Issue:

  • Consider code order. Prioritize the main content before the sidebar and top bar navigation. CSS can be used to control float direction, from left to right or right to left to make the sidebar navigation load after the main content. The top bar navigation can be controlled with absolute positioning.

Handling Navigation in Large Websites:

For large websites (those with hundreds of thousands or millions pages), website navigation can be a huge challenge.

The natural site navigation within categorized menus generally links to all pages of the site, and an XML sitemap can help index all pages.

However, the lack of cross-linking between content silos can create distance between pages.

On a large site, it can be difficult to identify all possible links between product pages and the corresponding product marketing pages.

Some sections of large sites may not be receiving much of the link love they need from other pages.

Additionally, other issues like the first link priority and issues with JavaScript could be hard to detect across millions of pages.

Here are three solutions to these challenges:

1. Delegate to Different Departments:

Large companies have proportionately large websites with multiple employees belonging to different departments. Many departments may correspond to different sections of the website.

Make sure that everyone involved in maintaining the different website sections abides by the same SEO principles and practices. Then, distribute the labor in optimizing navigation across the whole website.

2. Use Tools or Build Tools:

Automation always makes manual processes more scalable. Unless you have your own proprietary tool, there may not be a single tool to identify and fix all the issues mentioned above.

Crawling tools like Xenu, Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, or Botify can analyze your existing links, determine the issues, and provide a description of the site architecture.

If you want to visualize the site architecture, tools like DynoMapper and PowerMapper can help achieve this.

Link research tools like Moz’s Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Majestic, Sistrix, LRT, and CognitiveSEO can analyze which pages get the most backlinks externally then add cross-links from these pages leading to more important pages of the site.

The proprietary tool we use automates the process of crawling the page and determining which pages link to one another.

3. Use a Phased Approach:

Large websites don’t always have large teams behind them to distribute the work of optimizing pages. If there is a lack of resources, you can create your own tools to ease this process.

If these tools do not provide the help you need, then consider a phased approach. This entails working on one section at a time with an optimization schedule. This is a day-by-day process and may take longer, but relying on metrics like organic search traffic will help you determine what to optimize first.

7 Key Takeaways:

  • Users come first: Your website navigation should satisfy users first. Then, optimize your navigation for SEO performance. Never compromise the user experience.
  • Cross-linking between content silos: Content relevancy between pages is important for ranking, which comes naturally in a well-categorized, hierarchical site architecture. However, this can have limitations when it lacks cross-linking between content silos where some pages are just too deep or too far away from receiving a good amount of link juice from other sources.
  • Blogs to products, products to blogs: Create high-quality content that is helpful and relevant to your target audience. If these blog posts help in a product buying decision, then link to the blog post from the specific product page(s).
  • Tracking parameters: Avoid using them; use the onClick event handler on links for tracking purposes. It is always safe to have a self-referencing canonical tag.
  • JavaScript links: Avoid using JavaScript to write content and links. If there is no way around it, there are methods to make it work.
  • First link priority: Ideally, main content comes first. Next, is the sidebar, followed by the top bar. Lastly, handle the footer. Further testing is needed to determine if this is really still a valid concern, but it doesn’t hurt to stick to this method.
  • Huge websites: Thousands to millions of pages are hard to do all of the above. Delegate to a team, automate tasks by using tools, or handle the issues one at a time.

Build Links Ethically in 2020

By | seo advice for business

Google has made it clear that content and links are two of the biggest SEO factors.

Content without links limits your referral traffic and hinders ranking potential.

The only problem is: Google has also put strict guidelines into place about link building.

So, how do you acquire critical links from top-tier websites without breaking Google’s “rules” and requirements?

How do you build links in an ethical manner that positively impacts your website and brand image?

Here are three ethical link building strategies for 2020.

1. Be a Journalistic Source of Information:

One of the most ethical sources of backlinks online is being a journalistic source of information.

What does that mean?

Essentially: Providing a quote or tip or piece of information in exchange for a mention of your name, your brand, and your website.

For example, this is something I just recently did on a blog post about SaaS holiday marketing:

Expert interviews, roundups, or quotes are fantastic content marketing tools that can help improve content impact.

It’s always interesting to gather multiple opinions from different sources on a single subject to understand concepts and utilize experience from more than one source.

It makes for fantastic user experiences when reading and looking to implement new ideas.

Because of this, reporters, journalists, and writers are always looking for people to contribute to their content.

And when you are trying to build ethical, by-the-book backlinks, this should be music to your ears.

So, how do you do this efficiently and scale your ethical link building?

How on earth do you contact content marketers and bloggers to get featured without being annoying or spammy?

My favorite tool is HARO, otherwise known as Help a Reporter Out. It’s used by more than 55,000 bloggers and journalists alike.

HARO is a website where writers can post their topic and what type of quote or tip they are looking for.

All you have to do is respond via email with your submission and wait for them to confirm.

The best part is: the sources you contribute to aren’t unknown, random, or sketchy websites.

In fact, I’ve contributed to publications from HubSpot to Forbes using it:

HubSpot to Forbes

With HARO, you can create a free account that will deliver media opportunities directly to your inbox on a daily basis.

Depending on what niches you want to focus on, you will get potentially hundreds of media opportunities each week to respond to.

With a long, curated list, you can pick the topics and publications that appeal most to you and your brand goals.

Best of all?

It’s free.

Sure, it takes time to write a valuable quote or tip, but getting exposure on websites like Forbes makes it worthwhile.

So, what are you waiting for? Go become a journalistic source of information and acquire powerful links, ethically.

2. Link Reclamation: Improve Value in Existing Content:

Broken link building is nothing new.

You search for content mentioning your specific anchor text goals and hope the link is broken, allowing you to pitch yours to replace it.

This can work, but at scale, it’s nothing short of a nightmare.

It could take you hundreds of articles to find a single potential link spot, not to mention the poor conversion rate you’ll have actually getting a link placed.

This type of ethical link building is a needle in a haystack link building tactic. It’s one in a thousand.

Ditch broken link building and start working on link reclamation.

What’s that?

Essentially, link reclamation focuses on brand mentions (with or without a link).

For instance, if someone writes an article and mentions your software tool but doesn’t link to you, this is a great opportunity to:

  • Thank them for the mention
  • Request that they add a link to one of your target pages that is relevant to the copy
  • Build a connection with this site or writer for future collaboration

Using a tool like Ahrefs, you can quickly locate these. Fire up Ahrefs and use the content explorer tool:

Link Reclamation

From here, enter your brand name into the search bar and hit enter.

Select a date range to target, focusing on more recent content first.

Next, select “only live” links and a minimum domain rating range.

Remember: you want to focus on big wins here while weeding out spam.

Next, be sure to select “One page per domain” as well. Now you can export your list and have an entire spreadsheet showing where and when your brand is getting mentioned.

From here, it’s on you to research the site, the writer, and perform outreach!

One of the biggest keys to link reclamation is picking the right link to pitch.

Instead of just a homepage link, dig deeper into the topic of the article and find a landing page, feature page, etc, on your site that fits well.

Select your top priority target pages and find existing anchor text spots that align.

If you don’t currently have one, consider spinning up a new, more targeted landing page that directly fits.

Link reclamation is about as ethical as it gets: you are actually increasing the value a reader gets from a blog post by providing a link on that page where they can learn more.

Without it, they are forced to spend multiple searches to find that page.

The real question is:

Does it work?

If done correctly, it absolutely works. I’ve been running link reclamation with multiple clients and have seen a 25% conversion rate on average for getting links placed.

3. Guest Post to Build Connections:

Guest posting. It’s been a debate for a long time whether or not guest posting “works” or if it should be done for links or not.

Almost six years ago now, Matt Cutts said: “Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop.”

But, was he really talking about providing a stellar quality article to HubSpot and linking once to a valuable piece of content on your own site?

Not at all.

In fact, it was the opposite that he was referencing:

Spinning existing content and link-stuffing it to quickly drive your domain rating and rankings.

This is clearly spammy, creates zero value for readers, and was meant to game the system.

On the other hand, high-quality bylined content is still thriving, and for good reason:

Blogs need better quality content more than ever before, and hiring top-tier content marketers ain’t cheap.

That’s where you come into play: providing value with a content piece.

But don’t just submit your guest post and call it a day. Sure, you probably will get at least a byline link and drive some referral traffic. But the whole point of this tip isn’t just to guest post.

That’s a pretty obvious tactic. Instead, take this opportunity and build connections with your contact.

If it’s an editor, ask to become a regular contributor. Ask how you can provide them with more value.

Once you have a connection built, ask them if they need help with any in-progress content they are doing for other websites.

Use this as an opportunity to help by adding quotes, tips, statistics, and helpful links back to your own content.

Ditch guest posts on paid and spammy websites, and start focusing on natural guest post links on top-tier sites, with the main focus on building editorial connections.

Conclusion:

Link building is changing, fast.

It’s no longer about infographics, scouring the ends of the earth for broken links that might fit your anchor text, or guest posting for links.

Instead, it’s about finding ethical link building strategies that have one thing in common:

Improving the value for people reading the content and clicking your links while keeping Google penalties at bay.

Implement these three strategies in 2020 to do just that.

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Things SEO Professionals Must Avoid in 2020

Things SEO Professionals Must Avoid in 2020

By | seo advice for business

We all should know by now the top common black hat tactics to avoid. Most SEO professionals like to think of themselves as white hat, or at least gray hat.

However, did you know that there are several white hat strategies that can seriously hurt your long-term SEO performance?

The reason most of these white hat strategies can hurt you is that they’re often “too easy to be good for you.”

When we become complacent in the easy way out, our organic search performance can start to suffer.

For the TL;DR SEOs out there, here are my quick links to help you jump to the section you want to read.

The top six easy SEO strategies you must avoid:

  • Assembly line SEO strategy.
  • Blaming performance drops on algorithm updates (without evidence).
  • Copying location page copy.
  • Using automated auditing tools to drive strategy.
  • Paying for links.
  • Being too scared to ask questions.

1. Assembly Line SEO Strategy:

I define “assembly line SEO” as when a person or agency uses the same exact tactics for every client.

Many of the larger SEO agencies use this strategy for their SMB division because it’s efficient to manage.

Typically, after the site goes through its first round of on-page optimizations, the routine tactics include blogging and paying for links.

However, just because it’s easy, doesn’t mean it’s always the best.

This type of strategy may be fruitful for a short period of time, but unless there’s zero competition, the website is bound to experience a growth plateau.

What to Do Instead:

Instead of getting stuck in this routine “task-based” strategy, focus on finding out unique ways to deliver value to your website’s audience.

Investigate what your competitor’s top-ranking content is, and how they’re approaching their content strategy. Make a list of all of your competitor’s strategies and look for content gap opportunities.

Take these opportunities and make sure your content is built to serve your audience at each stage of their purchase funnel.

The continual research and content production may be more time-consuming, but it will inevitably be more fruitful. Another added bonus is that this will show your stakeholders that you truly care about their performance.

2. Blaming Performance Drops on Algorithm Updates (Without Evidence):

Performance drops can happen as suddenly and frequently as algorithm updates, depending on the website.

These days, algorithm updates happen so frequently that it could be easy to point fingers at Google and say they caused your rankings and organic traffic to drop.

Sometimes, it’s true!

However, more often than not, performance drops can occur for different reasons.

Some common reasons for organic performance drops include:

  • Newly discovered technical issues on the site.
  • Significant content changes.
  • Seasonality.
  • Competitor changes.
  • Manual actions.

Keeping those possibilities in mind, it’s important that we don’t take the easy way out and blame an algorithm update.

What to Do Instead:

There are several SEO recovery guides out there that you can reference for more in-depth steps on how to bounce back from organic performance drops.

Here are some quick tips on how to investigate whether your site was truly hit by an algorithm.

Did Google Discover New Technical Issues?

A technical issue is one of the more common reasons why a site’s performance may drop.

This usually happens when a site admin unknowingly updates various parts of the site and creates significant technical issues.

Investigate this issue by checking the following places:

  • Check the coverage report in Google Search Console.
  • Run a Screaming Frog or Sitebulb crawl to check for structural changes and crawl traps.
  • Run an automated audit in your SEO tool of choice to look for any hidden errors.
  • Check robots.txt for any new disallow directives.
  • Run a fetch and render to see how Google may be rendering your site.
Significant Content Changes:

This is another common cause for significant ranking fluctuations. Some sites, such as ecommerce, frequently change content.

If your site rarely updates content and experiences a dip in organic traffic or rankings, then you may want to investigate if your client or another site admin made some unexpected changes.

Some ways you can investigate site changes include:

  • Check the Changes tool in the Wayback Machine.
  • Install an activity log plugin to track your site changes.
  • Investigate which pages in Google Analytics took the biggest hit and analyze those pages.
Seasonality:

It’s rare to find sites that are unaffected by some sort of seasonality.

Whenever a stakeholder comes to you freaking out about site performance dips, make sure to check your year-over-year benchmarks.

Compare quarterly trend lines on top of each other so you can show your stakeholders that these dips may not be unusual.

Additionally, you should forecast ahead to let them know of any future expected dips based on previous year’s trends.

The key here is that you’re still improving year-over-year.

Competitor Changes:

Some traffic changes can occur because of a competitor improving their organic strategy.

Typically, this will be indicated by a steady decline in organic performance and is unusual for it to occur with sharp drops in performance.

If you think that your competitors are starting to steal your rankings from you, don’t panic!

I have a Python script that allows you to spy on your organic competitors. It will display who’s continually ranking for your topic keywords.

Manual Actions:

Manual actions are not a frequent as they used to be, but they still happen.

If your site has experienced a steep drop in traffic, take a look at Google Search Console for any manual actions.

3. Copying Location Page Copy:

When developing location pages for large websites with many locations, creating unique copy for each location can be tedious and time-consuming.

It may seem like the easy way out to just use the same copy for each location page, but I highly advise against it.

You can get much better local ranking performance by focusing on unique copy for each location page.

Check out my location page checklist to learn how to create the ultimate location page.

4. Using Automated Auditing Tools to Drive Strategy:

Relying on automated tools may not be the best way to drive your organic strategy.

Many new SEO professionals tend to conduct their initial SEO audits with automated tools and let that guide their global SEO strategy.

What’s the problem with this?

These SEO grading tools don’t “ask questions.”

The key to any good SEO strategy is to ask questions including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Who’s my target audience and what information do they need to take action?
  • Are there any obstacles for Google to crawl and interpret my site?
  • Does my internal linking structure facilitate entity-optimization?

What to Do Instead:

Invest in a tool like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb and learn how to look holistically at a site.

Use visualization tools to analyze the structure of a site.

Look for content gap opportunities and ensure that your technical structure is sound.

When your technical foundation is clean, search engines may have an easy time discovering, crawling, and rendering your webpages.

5. Paying for Links:

Now I know this article is meant to be focused on white hat tactics, but there is a gray hat method of link building in which you can pay link building companies for guaranteed links.

This is a great way to guarantee that you get a specific number of backlinks for your clients each month.

However, quality and relevance are almost never up to par.

What to Do Instead:

Link building tends to have a snowball effect.

If you get links in well-known publications, it’s possible that another writer will discover you and link to you in their own articles.

However, this is a less common occurrence with smaller DA backlinks.

I recommend investing in some PR partners to help you craft content and get features in noteworthy publications.

These larger publications tend to have a greater rate of organically growing your backlink profile through the snowball effect.

6. Being Too Scared to Ask Questions:

It’s too easy to just search the answers to your questions, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, when it comes to strategy or tackling specific problems, Google may not always return the right answer for you.

It’s OK to reach out to your peers for help. Even the best of us frequently run polls and ask for help on Twitter. There’s absolutely no shame in that.

In fact, it’s highly encouraged!

No respectable SEO will make fun of you for not knowing something.

We all have to learn somehow.

If you’re still a little too nervous, reach out to Search Engine Journal’s “Ask an SEO” column to get your anonymous questions answered publicly. That way others may benefit from the shared knowledge.

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Top SEO Trends to Watch in 2020

Top SEO Trends to Watch in 2020

By | Networking Bizz News

It’s time to take our annual look at what’s ahead for SEO professionals in 2020.

What SEO strategies and tactics will work and help you dominate in the SERPs and earn more revenue in 2020?

This is the question we ask every year here at Search Engine Journal.

This year, I asked 58 of today’s top SEO professionals for their thoughts.

Here are the top 10 trends you need to know in 2020, according to the experts.

Trend #1: BERT & User-Focused Optimization:

In 2019, the launch of Google’s new BERT algorithm got a lot of attention. Naturally, every SEO professional wants to learn how to optimize for BERT.

Well, rather than focusing on how to optimize for that specific algorithm, take a page from Kelly Stanze, Search Strategist, Hallmark, who will be focusing on user-focused optimization and the technical delivery of content.

In short, that means reassessing user access points to search and aligning content with that.

“Look at the mechanics of how something is crawled, indexed, and served in a variety of different search settings,” Stanze said. “With users having more options than ever in how they search for things, it’ll be even more important for SEOs to bear in mind the fundamentals of clean architecture and content delivery.”

With the incorporation of BERT this year into the ranking and featured snippets algorithm, Google has taken a huge leap forward into making search really about intent matching rather pure string matching, according to Eli Schwartz, Growth Consultant and Advisor.

“Content will truly have to be written to user intent rather than just strings that a user might search,” Schwartz said. “Keyword research tools may even become less relevant with the primary dataset for content creation coming from suggested queries. In 2020, the really smart SEOs will get up from their desks to talk to customers so they can find out what their audience really wants from them.”

“There’s no sign of [natural language processing] NLP and deep learning research slowing down anytime soon, and you can expect search engines to shift even further from keywords to intent in 2020,” Dubut said. “Both practitioners and tooling providers will need to shift their efforts towards ‘intent research’ and fulfilling user needs.”

As Jenn Mathews, Senior SEO Manager, Groupon, points out, Google is continually updating to optimize search results based on user intent rather than a focus on content/page to keyword matching.

“SEOs need to understand the nuance of what this means with their content as well as have a firm grasp on Google’s past updates leading to this trend.”

We’ve all wanted to focus on intent for the last several years, and better understand what the journey of our customers looks like, said Duane Forrester, VP, Industry Insights, Yext. Now it’s become such an important part of the landscape, it’s integral to the survival and growth for most online businesses.

“If you focus on the customer’s intent, you’ll clearly understand where you fit on that path,” Forrester said. “By providing the best answers for questions on that path, you can more reliably capture and convert customers.”

What does this mean for you?

Focus on how our users talk about their issues, problems, and needs at each aspect of the buyer’s journey much more, according to Keith Goode, Sr. SEO Strategist, IBM.

“Additionally, we’re going to have to extend our efforts far beyond the purchase in that journey to include content that addresses needs after the sale – support, opportunities to advocate, community-building and staying relevant for future purchases,” Goode added.

Always focus on your customers, said Sam Hollingsworth, Director of Search, Elevation Ten Thousand

“Too many brands forget or fail to realize what it takes to attract and impress potential customers. They want real value,” Hollingsworth said. “Just like in a brick-and-mortar establishment, customers want to know that you’re on their side, that they can trust you, and that you are a reliable partner in what is going to be a long-term – hopefully lifelong – relationship.”

Carolyn Lyden, Lead SEO/Owner, Search Hermit, hopes 2020 brings a change where we get back to the qualitative, human side of search.

“So many marketers market their products and services having never spoken one-on-one to their target audiences,” Lyden said.

Without talking to our customers and understanding why they are behaving the way they are, we are limiting our ability to create a smart and holistic strategy, according to Sarah Gurbach, Senior Account Manager, Search and Audience Insights, Seer Interactive.

“So, in 2020, I recommend you go and sit down with your customers,” Gurbach said. “Talk to them, ask them to tell you about their journey to purchase, how they used search, what they thought of your site. Use that data in every decision you make.”

User-focused optimization can only truly be done by integrating SEO into a holistic marketing strategy. Ryan Jones, SEO Group Director, Publicis Sapient, said this will be the biggest trend in 2020.

“Now, more than ever, companies are going to have to stop treating SEO as a condiment that they just add on to their digital strategy, and instead treat it as a key ingredient of their business plan,” Jones said. “SEOs are going to have to grow their skillsets to understand the full marketing and digital stack. It’s going to be less about fixing SEO issues and more about fixing marketing and business issues.”

Trend #2: High-Quality, Optimized Content:

Anna Crowe, Assistant Editor, Search Engine Journal, said there is one thing that has been and will continue to be the lifeblood of SEO:

Content.

“Content affects everything in SEO,” Crowe said. “From your site structure and internal linking strategy to the types of links you build.”

To succeed in 2020, you will have to write something that is relevant and valuable, said Tony Wright, CEO, WrightIMC.

“This means that SEOs need to learn how to write or hire people who know how to write,” Wright said. “Google’s editorial discretion isn’t perfect yet – there will still be content that ranks that shouldn’t. But the day is coming when the best content will win.”

Make it your goal to have the best content on the web for your topic, or at least an important subset of your topic, said Eric Enge, General Manager, Perficient Digital. By doing so, you will be future-Google-proofing your business.

“This allows you to compete effectively for long-tail searches (which still remains about 70% of all search queries), will help build your site authority and demand for your content, and can be done in a directly ROI positive way,” Enge said. “In addition, this type of approach to content is exactly what Google is looking for to satisfy user needs and represents the type of market investment that Google will likely never make, because Google is about doing things with massively scalable algorithms.”

Jesse McDonald, Global SEO Strategist, IBM, and Jessica Levenson, SEO & Content Strategy Consultant, both said 2020 is the time to move away from the obsession with keywords. Stop targeting individual keywords, chasing pageviews, and “spraying and praying” with content.

McDonald said to focus more on topics.

“The goal of switching the mentality to more of a topic-focus is to create content that addresses an entire conversation holistically as opposed to just worrying about the single keyword a page should be targeting,” McDonald said.

Levenson said to adopt a deliberate and methodically organized cluster of content that delivers comprehensive and intuitive topical experiences while meeting business objectives.

“Know what answers the user needs next,” Levenson said. “Boiled down:

  • Understand who your audience is and how they search.
  • Understand the intent behind the questions they are asking or problems they need to solve.
  • Give them solutions or answers in the formats they prefer via on-point, quality, and authoritative content.
  • Execute in this fashion for every stage of their journey to create a satisfactory topical experience that serves their needs again and again.
  • Iterate because just because you do it well once doesn’t mean intent won’t change or someone else won’t do something better.”

Another thing to watch out for, according to Aja Frost, Head of Content SEO, HubSpot: content cannibalization.

“I’d recommend auditing all of your content for overlapping rankings and merging, redirecting, and archiving as needed so every page ranks for a unique set of keywords,” Frost said. “If your website covers the same topics again and again, even if you’re covering these topics from different angles, your pages are going to knock each other out of the results.”

In 2020, it’s time to take a hard look at the quality of your content – and optimizing that content for users rather than search engines, said Michelle Robbins, VP Product & Innovation, Aimclear.

“In a way, the key to staying successful in search marketing 2020 is the same as it ever was – put out good content, with consistent brand messaging, in all your channels,” Robbins said. “As the search engines become ever more adapted to natural language understanding, the best-written content – in all forms – will win the day.”

And in the world of international SEO, the time is now to invest in good localization of content, said Motoko Hunt, President, AJPR.

“Many global websites have poorly translated content that hasn’t been edited for the local tongue,” Hunt said. “It’s not the placement of the keywords, it’s about how well your content is written for the local audience.

Trend #3: E-A-T & Your Unfair Advantage:

In 2020, Google will continue to look at the overall reputation and E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) of a given company and the individuals who publish content on behalf of that company, said Lily Ray, SEO Director, Path Interactive.

“Companies that struggle with a poor reputation, customer service issues or other trust issues will have a harder time competing,” Ray said. “These trust issues not only manifest themselves as reviews and feedback about your brand, but they also take the form of technical or security issues on your site.”

Ray expects that it will become increasingly difficult to receive organic visibility for YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) queries without the proper expertise and credentials to write on those topics.

Trustworthiness will be super important for publishers in 2020, said Grace Kindred, Junior Technical SEO Analyst, News UK.

“There will be a strong focus on quality content and fighting against fake news,” Kindred said. “It will be more important than ever to focus on the trust value of authors (verifying authors and showing their authority for particular subjects) and sites as a whole.”

According to Loren Baker, Founder, Search Engine Journal, opening up nofollow as a hint was an attempt by Google to better understand the sources of news stories, the sources, and references in large papers and academic study.

“Match that with the credentials of the author (which can be defined by structured data markup) and any fact-checking oriented schema, and we have an easier way for Google to weigh authority and trustworthiness of a piece of content, whether a news or publishing story,” Baker said.

Put simply: The offline is coming online, said Jason Barnard, Owner, Kalicube.pro. Every business needs to find its unfair advantage.

“With entity-based search, the Knowledge Graph and the rise of E-A-T, our capacity to create an accurate and convincing online representation of our offline world will become a major differentiating factor,” Barnard said. “All those offline events, conferences, awards, partnerships, etc. that Google cannot see suddenly take on enormous importance. Pull them online and push them to Google to feed its need for understanding and credibility.”

Alexis Sanders, SEO Senior Manager, Merkle, shared a few ways to have a digitally-based competitive advantage:

  • Supply chain excellence (e.g., delivering within 2-days (or less) with relevant status updates).
  • Customer service (e.g., ability to answer the user’s question with minimal friction).
  • Digital charisma / branding (e.g., Having users seek you out, because they want to do business with you? Do most of your reviews look more like love letters?).
  • User experience (e.g., is your experience more convenient / useful / simple?).
  • Price.
  • Niche products.

Trend #4: UX & Technical SEO:

The biggest trend that smart SEO professionals should focus on in 2020 for greater success is UX – user experience, according to Brock Murray, Co-founder, seoplus+.

“This includes the overall experience from the initial interaction in the SERPs, to the overall landing page experience, and even the experience after they leave your site (think remarketing, drip campaigns, personalization for returning users),” Murray said. “Think about how you can help your users have the best possible experience while truly pondering what value you can provide to them during their visit. ”

Technical SEO is a key piece of the UX discussion, according to Goode.

“While I believe Google will do a lot to compensate for our site’s own poor technical foundations (e.g., canonical corrections, hreflang corrections, etc.), it’s going to become increasingly more important for SEOs to focus on shoring up their technical foundations,” Goode said. ”I don’t think it’s accidental that Martin Splitt spends as much time as he does promoting good technical best practices from Google’s perspective. We should consider that a signal in and of itself.”

When we talk about technical SEO and UX, you have to talk about site speed and page speed.

Dan Taylor, SEO Account Director, SALT.agency, noted that Google has reinvigorated discussions and focus around site speed, with the new Chrome “slow warning badges”, and the speed reports in Google Search Console.

“This for many will reignite conversations with developers and in some cases lead to systems requiring almost complete redesigns of page templates and reengineering of how assets are loaded,” Taylor said.

Going further in the technical realm, Aleyda Solis, International SEO Consultant & Founder, Orainti, expects to see a further shift to a more technical SEO ecosystem, fueled by more JavaScript frameworks usage, PWAs, and a need for SEO automation for bigger websites.

“This already started since a few years ago but has become far more obvious this year,” Solis said. “In 2020, it will only get bigger with the popularization of JS frameworks, app first businesses that will also more strongly shift to the web due to the benefits of PWAs, and the need for SEO task automation for bigger sites where machine learning with Python can provide a solution.”

Trend #5: Mobile SEO:

Surprised to see mobile SEO as an important 2020 trend? Don’t be. As Wright put it:

“Almost every prospect coming into our shop has a mobile site that is a mess,” Wright said. “To survive in 2020, you need to implement 2017 tactics and fix your mobile.”

What’s that mean?

“Build sites for mobile-first, then make them compatible for desktop,” Kindred said. “That way those sites don’t have to be optimized for speed after launch.

Kris Jones, Founder / CEO, LSEO.com, said if you don’t have a mobile-friendly and mobile-optimized website, you need to take action immediately. You can’t wait any longer.

“All of your online reporting must reflect insights into your mobile performance as a priority,” Jones said. “Instead of visualizing a person sitting at a desktop computer you have to realize that most of the time people will find your website via a mobile device.”

But mobile SEO doesn’t stop there. Study the mobile SERPs.

“SEOs need to be looking at real, mobile search results, to know what they are up against, what kind of traffic they can expect, and what kind of optimization will actually be successful at impacting the bottom line,” said Cindy Krum, CEO, MobileMoxie

Trend #6: Structured Data:

We know high-quality content will be important in 2020. However, algorithms still don’t fully understand context.

So we need to give search engines “hints” to better understand and deliver results, based on a searcher’s intent, said Jeremy Knauff, CEO, Spartan Media.

“This means structuring the data in a way that helps search engines to better understand not only what is on a page, but also how each element relates to other elements on the page, and how that page relates to other pages within the website,” Knauff said.

Ultimately, you want to be understood, found by your customers through any channel and be well-positioned to take advantage of future features from Google and other structured data consumers like Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and AI Chatbots, said Martha van Berkel, CEO, Schema App.

“Done right, structured data becomes your marketing data layer,” van Berkel said. “It will allow you to publish your content for any machine/search engine/voice assistant/chatbot with context to provide service to your customers across any surface and at any moment of interaction.

“Smart SEOs will start leveraging their structured data to enhance their analytics so that they can gauge what part of their content is driving results and use this data to influence content strategy, marketing strategy, product features and more, across their companies,” she added.

Also, don’t assume that because you marked up all the most common data in early 2019, you are good, said Shelly Fagin, SEO, Highly Searched / Brand Ambassador, SEMrush.

“New types of markup are continuously being added or improved upon,” Fagin said. “I also expect to see a lot more manual penalties related to poor implementations of structured data. Don’t automatically trust some plugin you’ve installed to structure your data correctly.”

Trend #7: Entity & Knowledge Graph Optimization:

The search of the future increasingly is about real-world objects, said Bill Slawski, Director of SEO Research, Go Fish Digital.

“Google is finding ways to include entity related information in search results through things such as augmentation queries,” Slawski said. “You can optimize entities that your site is about by doing things such as optimizing those for Google’s Knowledge Graph and making sure that they appear in Knowledge Panels.”

As pointed out by Greg Gifford, VP of Search, SearchLab Chicago, local search is the forefront of entity-based search, so everyone should pay attention to what’s happening in this space.

“Local SEO has been entity-based for years – you’ve always been able to rank local businesses even if they don’t have a website,” Gifford said. “Google is tracking real-world visits already and recently received a patent for using ‘quality visits’ as a ranking signal.”

Dixon Jones, Founder, DHJ Ventures, said you need to tie large amounts of your cornerstone content to definite entities, which Google either recognizes or doesn’t. Writing around semantically close entities helps to better answer user journeys not just through better content, but also content that Google can see will be a good result.

“I think in 2020, internal linking will come to the fore, but again based around things, not strings,” Jones said. “Understanding the unique knowledge graph our web presence makes will empower us to be able to link those concepts together better within the content under our control, to the benefit of users and crawlers alike.”

Want your brand or business be seen as an entity? Here’s some advice from Alina Benny, SEO & Content Lead, Nextiva:

“If you publish original industry reports, compile new expert advice, and are among one of the dominant voices in the market, Google will start seeing you as an entity,” Benny said. “It’s these entity-related signals that are going to help you keep ranking.”

Trend #8: Link Building & Brand Building:

Want to acquire top-tier links in 2020? Shannon McGuirk, Head of PR and Content, Aira Digital, said it’s time to move link building from the dark ages into a consumer-first approach for 2020.

That means focusing on three types of journalistic writing:

  • Planned editorial: Topics that are covered by journalists every single year at a given point (e.g., Black Friday, Valentine’s Day).
  • Planned reactive editorial: Features written by journalists on a topic that ties to a seasonal event or theme that we know is being covered due to time frame, but we don’t know the exact story until editors or journalists write it on the morning of their editorial meeting.
  • Reactive editorial: Features written in the here and now that are unplanned and can’t be predicted and are dictated due to a news story breaking.

Carrie Rose, Co-founder / Creative Director, Rise at Seven, said link building will be more about brand building in 2020.

“The responsibility will fall on SEOs to build links and media placements that drive traffic and push brand, not just links that help with search rankings,” Rose said. “Now our link building activity has to be on-brand, or there’s a realistic chance that there won’t be any brand-building activity at all.”

Building a brand people trust and want to do business with is essential, according to Casie Gillette, Senior Director of Digital Marketing, KoMarketing.

“Customers are getting smarter and they expect more when it comes to marketing,” Gillette said. “The more they trust you, the more they are willing to share your content (links), talk about you (value), and buy your products (revenue).”

Trend #9: Focus on Visibility, Not Just Blue Links:

Zero-click searches have been a big reality in 2019. On-SERP SEO will only continue to grow in importance in 2020.

Thus, adapting to zero-click searches will be key, according to Cyrus Shepard, Founder, Zyppy.

“More and more brand marketing is happening on Google itself, and not necessarily on your website,” Shepard said. “Smart marketers will need to learn how to adapt and take advantage of this by getting more strategic about the information shown in search snippets.

Shepard said this includes basic tactics to increase actual clicks over impressions, such as featured snippet optimization, using newer schemas (e.g., FAQ and HowTo), image targeting, and favicon optimization.

But it’s more than just zero-click searches we need to plan for in 2020. We need to optimize for much more than blue links, Krum said.

“Ranking number 1 under a Knowledge Graph, Found on the Web or a Featured Snippet is different than ranking number 1 without those things,” Krum said. “Similarly, even if you are not in Position 1, ranking just below a People Also Ask result or Interesting Finds will not get as much traffic, because those things look better and thus, drive more clicks in the search result.

“Further, I think we will continue to see more localization in search results, with more Map Packs, News and Events ranking and taking clicks from traditional organic rankings,” she added.

Trend #10: Programming:

In 2020, you should tap into programming languages like Python and R to eliminate your most time-consuming and redundant tasks, according to Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist, Moz.

SEO automation will free you up to harness the power of marketing fundamentals:

  • Branding.
  • Creating great customer experiences.
  • Storytelling.
  • Speaking your customer’s language.
  • Listening to your target market & providing thoughtful/timely responses.
  • Providing easy to consume content (in the way in which your users want it).
  • Being human.

As Paul Shapiro, Head of SEO, Catalyst, put it: Programming makes SEOs better SEOs. And we’re starting to really see increased adoption.

“There are real advantages to moving beyond Excel for analysis. It permits a more sophisticated analysis of your own data, as well as the ability to:

  • Incorporate other data sources for insights.
  • Apply machine learning to solve complex problems.
  • Make decisions that normally would be difficult and require human input (for which there is limited time to provide human input).”

Ways to Use Social Profiles to Get Quality Links

Ways to Use Social Profiles to Get Quality Links

By | Social Media News

Using company or personal online profiles to generate links is a tricky subject.

Some people think it is spammy or misleading, especially when someone creates profiles for the sole purpose of getting links.

Even though a few shady marketers have twisted the purpose of profiles, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it in a genuine way.

It is possible to have real profiles that share your information, background, and accomplishments, while also using it for more than just a way for people to find you online.

Having online profiles on the main social networks and websites your core audience visit is not only important to online visibility, but it can help you grow your network, which can organically lead to more inbound links for your content.

Below are five of the best ways to use profiles to help get quality links.

1. Outreach with an Executive’s Profile for Better Response Rates:

Connections made with a real person get higher engagement and provide better trust than the same activities done with a company profile.

Many online users have learned to ignore messages and requests from brands on social networking sites, simply because there are just too many companies on there trying to get users to buy their products or share their content.

Personal connections continue to matter. It is possible to use network building as a way to share content on an individualized basis, but it does take some work to grow the relationship first.

Some digital marketing teams log into executive’s personal profiles to add friends or connections, or to follow-up with existing contacts to help build relationships.

This helps executives get to know others in the industry, which can lead to a reciprocal relationship of sharing and promoting each other’s content.

However, while this seems like a good way to offload some of the social networking, it can have a lot of potential drawbacks.

If the executive doesn’t know what was said and then happens to talk to the connection in person or on the phone (or even in email), it can make them seem disingenuous and untrustworthy.

If a team is helping an executive with their social media, make sure they are still involved in the process.

2. Forum Profiles Can Be Used to Build Relationships with Highly Technical People:

Most people are on the basic social networks, like LinkedIn and Facebook.

But there are many more niche networks and forums that are commonly used daily by those that are deeply involved in a certain industry.

Try to find these online communities and get more involved.

You’ll find that there is often more depth to the questions and discussions, leading to a lot of good opportunities to build trust and get others interested in your content (provided it’s useful to the discussion at hand).

Some sites to check include:

Reddit, which has thousands of “subreddits” or threaded discussion boards based on a specific topic.
Github, which is a portfolio hosting and online community for programmers and developers.
Because these are highly technical forums, it doesn’t make sense to go in and start spamming discussions with your links.

Try to integrate with the community by answering questions, getting involved, completing your profile, and staying active before even attempting to share your own content.

When you share your content, make sure it’s actually useful to other users. Otherwise, you may find yourself being ostracized for trying to commercialize the discussion.

3. Use LinkedIn to Share Your Content with the Right People:

When possible, ask your executives to get involved with your online activity or set up a sharing schedule (with their permission) to regularly share content on their personal social media profiles.

LinkedIn is the perfect platform for this, as executives can have their own profiles and can share content as needed.

Because executives have more personal credibility, their link suggestions are much more like to be taken seriously by users than a company profile simply sharing links to their blog.

The executive’s profile is “vouching” for the content, making it more trustworthy.

When possible, ask executives for their insight or commentary on an article that can then be shared with the link.

Users like hearing the opinions of influential or high profile people, so adding this personal touch can help increase interest.

4. Reach out to the Social Profiles of People Who Are Authorities:

LinkedIn is great for building personal credibility and sharing content, but you can also use Twitter, forums, and Facebook to do outreach and get others interested in your content.

On Twitter (and Instagram), it’s a common practice to follow people in your industry you hope will follow you back.

Taking the “first step” toward building a relationship can help get you noticed organically and hopefully start a relationship.

After following someone, send them a tweet mentioning something they did recently, such as podcast they were on or an article they wrote.

This can show that you admire their work.

People are much more likely to take an interest in someone that they know already appreciates what they do – because it doesn’t feel like they have to win them over – it’s already done!

Building genuine relationships with influencers or authorities in your field can be a fulfilling way to not only grow your online visibility, but to also learn from some of the best minds in the business.

As these influencers and authorities begin to trust you, you can ask them about sharing your links or if there is a way you can continue to help one another promote new ventures and projects.

5. Promote Your Content with Facebook Ads to Drive Traffic, Shares & Links:

WordStream founder Larry Kim is a master at getting tons of traffic to his content, and he has shared in presentations and in blog posts how this strategy has lead to big gains. He even did a webinar about this topic for SEJ.

Essentially, with the right targeting and even as little as $50, you can get your content in front of the right people on Facebook.

When you have clear and concise targeting, the ad spend is lower, and the user interest is usually a lot higher.

Try to target exact interests or industries (e.g., manufacturing VPs in the U.S. instead of simply users who have an interest in “business”) and make sure your content title and description shares exactly how it is useful to the people you’re trying to target.

As the ad garners more visibility, you’ll see a trend in natural links as well, as users who see the ad share the content with their own networks.

This helps it grow organically, making your ad budgets stretch much further.

Conclusion:

Getting shares and links for your content using online profiles and personal outreach certainly isn’t the fastest way to build links, but it is one of the most genuine and usually has the greatest long-term impact.

As you grow your network, you’ll find that people are more likely to share content from people they know, like, and trust.

By focusing on building your online profiles by staying active, sharing interesting and relevant information, and promoting the work of others, you’ll find that it often comes back to you in a big way.

Summary:

Timeframe: 10-20 forums per month

Results detected: It will likely take more than 30 days to see the first round of links come in, but typically you will see results with link building in 3-6 months, depending on a large number of factors.

Average links per month: The number of links should depend on how competitive the targeted keywords are or how aggressively you want to build Domain Authority. But a base program should have 10-15 links per month, minimum.

Tools:

  • BuzzSumo
  • Upfluence
  • Facebook

Benefits:

This type of program will generate highly contextual links from natural relationships, which is how Google seems to intend links to be built. This is a very low-risk link building program.

Build a Successful SEO

Simple Tips to Build a Successful SEO Strategy on a Small Budget

By | seo advice for business

We’ve read the blogs, we’ve heard the talks, we’ve seen the case studies.

Big brands are winning at SEO.

They’ve got:

  • A team of experts working on fine-tuning their tech.
  • A world-class agency planning their next digital PR campaign.
  • A fund for stationery that rivals your entire year’s marketing budget.

It can feel demoralizing as a marketer with a small SEO budget to hear those stories. Their success can feel completely out of reach.

That doesn’t have to be the case.

If you are working with a small SEO budget for your brand or your agency’s client you can still have success.

The key to building a winning SEO strategy when you are low on funds is learning to prioritize.

Read on to learn the top 12 ways you can prioritize, structure, and run SEO campaigns that will bring exceptional ROI from your small budget.

1. Identify How Your Budget Limits You:

This is a crucial first step. A small budget often means you are having to compromise in some areas. Regardless of whether you are working in-house, in an agency or as a freelancer, small budgets often mean:

Lack of Time
If your client has a small marketing budget then you are likely to be very limited in how much time you can dedicate to their SEO each month.

Similarly, if you work in-house for a brand with a small budget then your time is probably shared amongst other channels, too.

A small budget often means you are not given enough time to do all of the work you want to.

Less Resources
If you are working with a small SEO budget you might not have access to all the fancy tools you think you need. Extensive keyword trackers, backlink identifiers and log-file analyzers can be quite expensive.

If you are working for an agency you may have access to these, but in-house marketers on a small budget are unlikely to.

Knowledge
If you have a limited SEO budget as a brand marketer, chances are you don’t have an array of SEO experts at your fingertips.

Even as an agency marketer working with clients who don’t have much budget means your SEO team is probably not highly specialized. This can leave serious gaps in your knowledge that could be hampering your SEO efforts.

Money for Assets
A lack of money often means that you don’t have the budget for work outside of your skill-set. If you want to plan an outreach campaign, for example, you may feel blocked by the cost of asset creation.

For instance, you might have felt a designer, media producer and content manager would be crucial to get your idea off the ground.

Identifying what your SEO budget is, and is not, translating to in terms of your resources and knowledge gives you a good idea of what you should be prioritizing. It also helps you to stop wandering down paths that aren’t going to yield results.

2. Fill Those Gaps:

If you know your budget means you cannot afford the best tools you may need to look at cheap or free alternatives.

There are ways to track rank, identify backlinks, and analyze log files without spending a fortune.

The options are usually just a little less shiny and require a bit more manual labor to get the same level of intel.

If it is time that you are short on then you may need to have a conversation with your team or your client about getting more.

I’ve heard of agencies who will sell SEO packages in at 3 or 4 hours a month. This is, in my opinion, hard to work with.

You may need to speak to your client about the limitations such a small commitment to SEO gives and perhaps show the possible increase were they to invest more.

Some in-house bosses are also unaware of how much time SEO analysis and implementation takes to carry out well.

If there is really no option to increase the time you have allocated to spend on SEO then you will need to be laser-focused on the work you do. See point 5 for more advice on that.

If it is a knowledge gap that you feel is holding you back then you need to know what your weaker areas are.

It may be that you are an excellent copywriter and feel that digital PR is your jam, but the technical side of SEO is still a bit baffling to you. This can be your opportunity to develop your skills.

3. Assess Your Strengths:

You might feel like you are at a disadvantage due to your lack of budget, but what are you already doing well? It could be you have access to a great development team, or you are a digital PR at heart.

Make sure you keep an element of the work that comes easily to you in your plan. That way you will know that you are guaranteed some success for your efforts.

Your brand might be well known already in your industry or local area. You can capitalize on this fame to build backlinks or gain reviews.

Use your and the brand’s strengths to your advantage in your strategy.

Start analyzing what you have available to you. Audit the knowledge, skills, and resources you can access. This will help you to identify what to prioritize.

For instance, if you are limited on resources but have a good relationship with local business, reach out to them. There may be some deals that you can make to use to your advantage.

Perhaps you can partner with local sports teams or schools that will enable you to give back to your community as well as earn links from them.

Another local company or agency may swap their designer’s skills for your SEO advice. It is worth exploring the support you can get outside of your own team.

4. Set Expectations:

The key to a really successful strategy when working with small budgets is setting expectations.

Your boss or your client may have lofty visions of what they expect SEO to achieve for them. They might be completely unrealistic.

Get an idea for the baseline of organic traffic currently going to your site.

From there you can use a predictive model to estimate organic traffic growth.

You may get pressure to drive rankings up or double organic traffic but you need to be clear about what is achievable.

It is also worth discussing the sorts of activity you will be able to carry out within your budget.

Elaborate outreach campaigns and redesigning the structure of the website might be completely unfeasible now.

That doesn’t mean you can’t begin building a case for that work in the future.

5. Start Small:

An important factor in developing a well-performing organic strategy on a budget is knowing where you can focus your efforts to achieve the most growth.

You may need to look at what your focus product, service, or content is. Prioritize the pages or goals that are most important.

You are going to be able to achieve more for those one of two pages than if you are trying to spread your limited budget across your whole site.

If you will benefit from traffic searching with local intent then optimize your Google My Business listing. It may only require some small changes.

Your effort and resources may be better spent trying to rank for local terms where competition is more limited.

6. Fix Your Problems First:

Your hard work can be for nothing if your website is fundamentally flawed.

You don’t have the money to waste optimizing your website whilst it is suffering from technical debt, or has an abundance of backlinks with anchor text for services you no longer provide.

A comprehensive audit, although time-consuming, can reveal issues that you never knew you had. It may seem like an indulgent use of budget but it will put you in a much stronger position to form a winning strategy.

Look into the state of your website.

A few points you need to cover include:

  • Has it migrated recently? Was that carried out effectively or might it still be suffering the effects?
  • What does your backlink profile, including anchor text look like?
  • Which pages have already been optimized on the site and are they growing in visibility?
  • What does the technical set-up of the site look like? Can it be crawled easily, with the signals as to which pages should be indexed consistently?

Once you have an idea of which areas of your site might be holding you back you can see a focus for the first stages of your strategy.

It’s important to note that the reason these issues have not been fixed before could be due to the limits of the budget.

Perhaps there isn’t enough money available to bring back the developer who built the site to fix the issues it’s suffering from or the migration went south because of the lack of knowledge in the company.

This can complicate matters but doesn’t mean your strategy is doomed. You may need to focus even more on compensating for the site’s shortcomings while trying to fix what you can.

For instance, I’ve worked on sites before that had terrible copy but the client was adamant it could not be changed because they did not want to pay for someone to re-write what had only just been written by their in-house copywriter.

Not being able to better theme a page’s copy to the search terms I know their clients are searching with isn’t great for ranking the page or converting traffic that lands on it.

In that instance, I had to focus even more on increasing the other signals that suggest the page’s relevancy for those terms, like page titles, internal linking, and anchor text.

7. Prioritize Results:

It may be that you are not going to make much progress optimizing for your head terms in a crowded market.

It can be tempting in this situation to look at how to drive traffic the fastest, such as going for a long-tail keyword strategy. However, this might not be the best use of your budget if it doesn’t bring about conversions.

This comes back to point four, setting expectations correctly.

If you have agreed that conversions is one of your key metrics for showing success then a long-tail keyword strategy in isolation may not be your best course of action.

However, if the goal is to increase visibility or organic traffic only then it may be more suitable.

Your strategy needs to focus on what will meet the goals of the campaign. Look for opportunities that will bring about the best ROI.

8. Think Outside the Box:

With a limited budget in a crowded industry, you will need to get imaginative with how you spend your resources.

Google’s standard organic results might not be your best starting point.

This sounds very counter-intuitive.

Depending on your SEO goals though you could be better off looking at another way to increase organic traffic to your site.

If your product is very visual, then consider focusing on ranking your images for image searches and carousels. This could land converting traffic to your site easier than if you are trying to rank for head terms associated with your product.

Consider Other Search Engines
Perhaps Google isn’t the search engine you should focus on immediately.

Depending on the industry you may find you have a high percentage of organic visitors from other search engines.

StatCounter shows Bing’s share of the U.S. search engine market to be 6.33% in October 2019. I recently accidentally conducted a Yahoo search when using a very old laptop that had the default search engine changed.

There are still people not using Google.

This might be a focus point for you.

For instance, Bing Places is often forgotten by companies that are focusing on Google only.

It may be that you can rank your site’s local businesses’ Places easier in Bing than in Google due to lower competition. It may be enough to move the needle of converting organic traffic to your site.

Similarly, if you have a lot of video content, then optimizing them for YouTube’s organic algorithm may allow you to drive more awareness of your brand. Again, it all comes down to what the goals of your campaign are.

9. Ignore Best Practice:

Something that is often a time-sink is trying to conform to “best practice”.

The results of audits by less experienced SEO professionals may highlight issues like the XML sitemap not being referenced in the robots.txt or page titles exceeding 60 characters.

If you are in a position where you need to be very careful with where you focus your efforts then trying to tick all the “best practice” boxes is likely to be a waste of time.

Often, these items will do little for your SEO other than make you feel like your above criticism from outside agencies trying to poach your job.

At worst, they can be detrimental to your work by stealing your attention away from results generating activity.

Everything you include in your strategy needs to have a clear objective that goes towards achieving your desired ROI.

Will adding a reference to the XML sitemap in your robots.txt cause an external development agency to charge for an hour’s work?

Is that worth coming out of your budget if you could add the XML sitemap’s location to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools?

Why are you going back through all the meta descriptions on your site to ensure they are less than a certain number of characters when Google may well change them in the SERPs anyway?

It can feel risky leaving your work open to criticism from less-informed parties.

Your strategy is not about ticking boxes. It’s about driving results.

All of your activity needs to reflect that.

10. Learn from Your Competitors:

A good way of saving some time and resources is to look at what your competitors are already doing. Find out where they are getting their backlinks from.

See if any of those sites are worth approaching for your own links. Understand how their copy is out-ranking yours and use that knowledge to improve your own.

See who has the featured snippet you are coveting and improve your copy so it is structured similarly. Ensure it better answers the searchers’ question.

It has to be stressed though, just because another site is doing something does not mean your site should be doing it, too. The search algorithms are complicated.

There can be many reasons why a poorly optimized page might be ranking above yours. Don’t just blindly copy what you see others doing. Ensure your changes fit in with what you know about the algorithms.

It is also crucial that you don’t look too far out of your website’s industry for inspiration. These are not your competitors. They are not the websites that yours will be competing with in the SERPs.

Therefore the reasons they are ranking number 1 for a term that is not relevant to your site does not mean your site will start ranking better for the terms that should be driving traffic to your site.

11. Use Your Colleagues:

Another factor in developing a winning SEO strategy on a small budget is borrowing resources from other places.

This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Educate your colleagues so they work in an SEO-first way. If your development team fully understands the implications of their coding changes they can work alongside you on technical SEO. Talk to your PPC team about their audience targeting for brand terms searches so they don’t cannibalize organic traffic.
  • Use their data. Other internal teams and external agencies working on your brand will have their own wealth of data that could be useful in informing your strategy. Make sure you are liaising with paid media team to find out what search terms are converting for them.
  • Ask for their assistance. If time and skills are limited in your SEO team then you may also need to get creative with asking for help from other members of your team. Can a designer help with your outreach assets, or a developer help you identify the cause of your spider trap? You may have the right resources at your disposal already, just not within your direct team.

12. Improve Existing Content Before Writing New:

A final suggestion for making the most of your limited budget when creating a winning SEO strategy is to improve content you already have.

What can you optimize that is already on your site?

Think about videos, images and audio files.

Look into the schema markup available for your content. This can help its presentation in the SERPs which may gain you more visibility without having to spend money on new content.

Look at the copy on your site that is ranking on pages two or three. See if there are tweaks that can be made to get it ranking on the first page.

You must make sure the assets you already have are working hard for you.

Conclusion:

It can be a struggle to drive well-converting organic traffic to a site when your budget is small. It isn’t impossible though.

Some of the most exciting SEO happens when you need to be creative with your time and resources.

    • More Resources:

 

Innovative PPC Tactics

Innovative PPC Tactics

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Managing pay-per-click campaigns (be they search, social, or display based) usually becomes a series of habitual tasks.

While this allows for stability and scalability, sometimes it causes blind-spots in legacy accounts (working together more than a year).

Here are my favorite tactics to break the mold.

Tactic 1: A Single Long-Tail Broad Match Keyword, with Every Other Word Added As Negatives:

If there’s one universal truth to PPC managers, it’s that we value control over everything.

Broad match is the antithesis of that control.

Broad match keywords become grounded in the actual syntax of the keyword chosen when they have at least 5 words.

Additionally, broad match opens up access to keyword concepts that would be too expensive to actively invest in.

keyword-branding-

When you adopt this strategy it’s crucial you take the following steps:

  • Every keyword you’re actively targeting gets added as an exact match negative. This will ensure your broad match keyword can focus on new query ideas/one off searches, while your core campaigns can deliver leads/sales via proven keyword concepts.
  • If an applicable in-market audience exists, layer it on the broad ad group/campaign so you can prequalify the data acquisition.
  • Audit your queries regularly, and be open to swapping keyword concepts you’re actively targeting for ideas your broad match keyword secures (provided there’s enough volume/the business case is there).
  • Campaigns should only have one broad match keyword (sequestered away in its own ad group). Any more than that, and the data acquisition will turn into waste.

Tactic 2: Lead with Display, Remarket with Search:

Not every business hast the budget for Google search as the first touch with a prospect.

Display is here to bring the curated audience worth investing in.

The beauty of custom intent, custom affinity, and in-market audiences is that they represent prequalified leads another brand paid for.

Lead with Display

Layering these audiences on a display campaign (where the cost-per-click are dramatically cheaper) allows your brand to curate a list of ideal prospects – ripe for the picking by branded search and/or RLSA.

All ad types should be aligned with the target audience, and display is no exception.

Display creative needs to be attention-grabbing, and can lean on image, text, or a hybrid approach.

Hybrid creative can look like this:

Hybrid creative

This ad achieves the following:

  • Grabs the user’s attention with a bold statement with focusing images.
  • Highlights the product with a strong call to action.
  • Subtlety engages the user to think about their subscription model as opposed to a one-off purchase.

Leveraging text-heavy display well is tricky, but possible:

text-heavy display

This ad achieves the following:

  • Entices the prospect with an offer.
  • The call to action is clear and stands out from the rest of the creative.
  • The both the product brand and vendor brand are clearly displayed for ease of retention.

If you decide to leverage this tactic, it’s vital two considerations are in place:

  • Your industry is approved for remarketing. Full list of restricted industries is here.
  • You have your remarketing tag and Facebook pixel in place.

Depending on the initiative, the display campaign may be sending folks to a microsite or subdomain, so it’s important to confirm the tracking codes used on your main site make it over to your PPC landing pages.

Tactic 3: Sequester Branded & Competitor Terms in Their Own Campaigns:

Regardless of where you fall on the branded/competitor campaign debate, there is value in protecting your general service terms from false positive (branded) and false negative (competitor) metrics.

Most keywords are capable of adding in branded or competitor terms to their queries, creating false positives/negatives in the metrics.

cost-of-queires

When branded and competitor terms live in their own campaigns (and are made negatives everywhere else), campaigns are able to focus on the main job they’ve been given.

Campaigns jobs range from:

  • General service/product: Core service offerings and products offered – ad groups are different ways of referring to that service/product.
  • Location-based: Campaigns have very similar structure but are targeted to different location so they’re not competing with each other and can have ads/keywords that account for how that location searches/thinks.
  • Buyer Persona: While this usually makes more sense at the ad group level, if the buyer persona represents different margins/profit potential, it can make sense to set campaigns in line with prospect potential value.
  • Branded: A safe space for the cheaper and higher converting queries revolving around your brand, as well as a focused spot for branded creative.
  • Competitor: Top five to seven competitors with a competitor per ad group that allows you to set specific messaging in line with why you’re better.
  • Experimental campaigns: Safe spaces for crazy ideas that you don’t actually want to run but are “forced” to by team members/clients

Every campaign represents additional budget, so it’s important to choose the jobs that will serve your brand best, as well as allow you to have an account that’s easy to manage.

Tactic 4: Use DSA for Keyword Research:

Dynamic Search Ads (DSA) represents a beautiful hybrid approach between SEO and PPC – empowering PPC campaigns through well SEO’ed sites.

DSA functions by allowing Google to crawl the site, and match the best landing page to the user’s query (if it was included in the dynamic target).

DSA for Keyword Research

There are two main benefits to DSA:

  • Empowering budgets to support hundreds/thousands of landing pages without needing hundreds of campaigns.
  • Teaching us how our prospects search and at what cost.

All keywords you’re targeting in other campaigns need to be made negatives in the DSA campaign.

By making the keywords negatives, you ensure your actively chosen keywords get a fair shake to be profitable, and DSA can focus on net new ideas.

It is vital regular audits of the search term reports accompany DSA. You’ll be checking for the following:

  • Keyword concepts you want to actively target.
  • Keyword concepts that need to be made negatives.
  • Auction price range of valuable queries.

Tactic 5: Invest Aggressively in the Beginning and Then Roll Spend Back:

Most campaigns begin with a small testing budget – advertisers are loath to invest until they see results.

Yet if there isn’t enough fuel for the keyword concepts/targets chosen, the learning period can drag causing waste.

If the campaign is operating at less than 30% impression share (of all available impressions, the amount it’s securing), that means at least 70% of potential prospects aren’t getting access to your brand.

Invest Aggressively branding

Sometimes, new campaigns need to be less ambitious in scope (targeting only part of the offerings/some of the market) to allow the budget to fully fuel their learning periods.

The first month of a campaign should get a 15%-20% increase in budget for data acquisition (how prospects search, what they will cost, and to teach the ad networks the value of the campaign).

After the initial learning period (minimum of two weeks but can go for the full month), you’ll have the intel to make educated and profitable decisions about the account.

This can mean:

  • Rolling back spend to ideal parameters.
  • Leveraging a smart (conversion-oriented) bidding strategy.
  • Campaign optimizations (negatives, new keywords/ad groups, creative choices).

Final Thoughts:

Our job as PPC marketers is to consonantly push the boundaries of what’s possible in profit and scale.

Yet if we add in too many variables, we won’t know what was behind our success.

Give yourself a full learning period as you test out these innovations.

    • More Resources:

 

Google my Business

Tips to Boost Your Google My Business Profile

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Are you leveraging your responses to Google reviews and using the new Google My Business (GMB) tools to get a leg up on your local search competitors?

If not, here are some major points to consider when boosting your GMB presence.

1. Encourage Reviews:

Reviews are one of the best ways to grow your GMB profile. They cost nothing but do much to raise your business’s profile to organic searchers.

Think about how you might go about weeding through a large selection of local general contractors if you have never employed one before.

You have no idea if the claims made on a contractor’s website are accurate since you don’t have third-party confirmation of areas such as costs and quality of workmanship.

In this case, what you need are GMB reviews to raise you up in local searches.

People who look up contractors in their area will be more likely to trust your business if they see you have 10 or 15 reviews in the four-to-five-star area.

But those reviews won’t show up overnight.

You often have to do a little outreach to happy customers to get them to leave reviews at all.

You can do this by email, postcard, or simply by asking them verbally to review their experience with you.

Another option is to take advantage of review-management platforms such as BirdEye, ReviewPush, and Pozative. These programs allow you to:

  • Organize your customer reviews.
  • Send text message review requests.
  • Respond to new Google reviews directly from email alerts.

No matter how you do it, your review requests should encourage customers to be honest and detailed in their analyses.

Ask them to provide original photographs of the work you did for them or a product you sold them.

Photos are great for increasing your GMB profile’s visibility even more.

2. Avoid Spammy Tactics:

Google is definitely smart enough today to know when someone is trying to cheat the system by, for instance, automating content, creating doorway pages, and keyword stuffing.

The same idea applies to GMB.

This is Google’s own tool, so why would the largest, most robust search engine in existence let you get away with spammy tactics such as paying people to leave positive reviews?

Potential customers are going to trust real, honest reviews.

Google and those review sites I mentioned do, too. They know when you’ve paid some dubious website to provide a fake five-star review for your business.

In fact, review sites are able to detect spammy reviews and will flag your site as being dishonest.

The flag will result in a popup that users will see when they arrive on one of your pages, warning them not to trust your site.

The same concept applies to offering incentives, such as future discounts, for people to leave positive GMB reviews. In this case, doing this could simply backfire on your online reputation.

If people mention the incentive in their review, potential customers might think their praise is false.

At the same time, trying to bribe people for positive reviews glosses over the potential facts of a situation.

Even if people had negative experiences with your business, they won’t say so in their reviews. This makes it more likely that future customers will be “fooled” and end up having a bad time when they expected something better.

3. Respond to Negative Reviews:

Instead of working harder than you need to by engaging in these kinds of tactics, I advise you simply to preempt negative GMB reviews before they happen or to respond diligently to bad reviews that do come through.

The former would obviously require you to dig in and make sure that every aspect of your enterprise is running smoothly.

Cater to your customers at all times, and if something goes wrong, be understanding, address it then and there, and make sure people leave happy.

When negative reviews do appear online, reach out to those customers to apologize and empathize. This shows the general public that you care about your clients even after they depart your establishment.

4. Leverage New GMB Tools:

My final recommendation for boosting your GMB profile is to take advantage of the relatively recent additions Google has rolled out for its online business tool.

One such feature is the Google Marketing Kit, which allows you to create free stickers, posters, and social media posts for advertising your business’s promotions and events.

In particular, the social posts should be an enormous boon to your online presence. You can create cool posters of your positive reviews, featuring blurbs from the text, and then share them on your social media platforms.

GMB also now lets users follow your business’s local profile just as they would on a social network such as Facebook or Instagram. Followers would then get access to your business’s:

  • New GMB social posts.
  • Offers.
  • Blog posts.
  • Events.
  • Product updates.

All of these things help to increase brand awareness in your followers.

Lastly, Google Posts let you advertise new coupons, deals, and events in creative ways. You can even use images, videos, and call-to-action buttons to drive up user engagement.

Google Posts is a great GMB advertising method because its analytics feature lets you see how users interacted with whatever you posted. You can use the data you discover to craft even better posts next time.

In the not-too-distant future, keep an eye out for GMB’s “local favorites” feature, which will award digital and physical badges to the top 5 percent of local businesses per category.

Not many details are known about this yet, such as whether the categories of businesses will be separated by region, and, if so, how those regions will be partitioned.

Conclusion:

As you can see from the effort Google is putting into its new GMB tools, the search engine giant wants you to build up your business’s local profile.

Having a vigorous GMB presence will help local customers find you, and encouraging those customers to leave positive reviews will drive even more clients into your establishment.

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Helpful Tips to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize

Helpful Tips to Choose the Right Keywords to Optimize

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

Keyword research and targeting have been around as long as SEO. We all do it at some level.

While context and quality of content are what really matter, we have to at some level determine what keywords or topics we want to be well-positioned for.

There are a ton of great tools, resources, and processes for doing keyword research.

But no matter how good the keyword research process is, there’s always a risk of choosing to target keywords and topics that require a lot of effort and don’t produce the results we want.

Ultimately, we need to be careful to choose the right keywords to optimize for.

We can do so by taking an approach that includes specific principals to keep us on track for the right targeting for our organizations.

1. Identify Goals:

It might seem like it goes without saying, but we have to start with goals for any organic or paid search effort.

Knowing ultimately what we want to accomplish at a business or organizational level and working backward to determine how search influences it is our starting point.

If we want to grow our leads, sales, engagement, or other metrics, by a certain amount, we can determine how many search conversions and traffic we need.

To get the traffic, we have to be found for specific keywords and topics.

2. Ask Stakeholders:

With goals in place, we’re ready to start finding the right keywords.

To generate a seed list, we can gather insights and ideas from stakeholders like salespeople, other parts of the marketing team, the C-suite, customers, and prospects.

Get input from stakeholders of what they would search for to find your business, your products, your services, or your content.

At this point, take anything they give you. We’re not yet at the step of filtering or judging the validity or accuracy of what they’re telling you.

Capture and build out a list of what you’re hearing and learning.

3. Analyze Competitors:

We never want to assume that our competitors are doing it right or well.

However, we have to take a look at what they are targeting and doing.

  • Are your traditional competitors outranking you?
  • Do they offer the same products, services, or content?

Then, chances are there is something to learn from them.

Review:

  • Their title and meta description tags.
  • The topics of the pages on their site.
  • What they are talking about and are positioned for prominently in search results, social media, PR, and beyond.

Create a list of what topics, terms, and phrases you’re finding competitors focusing on that align in any way with your organization and content.

4. Perform Keyword Research:

There are a lot of great resources that talk about the tools and processes for doing keyword research for both organic and paid search.

I’m not going to detail that here, but do want to note that you need to take care in ensuring you’re looking at match types and using the right tools for paid versus organic search.

Know the mistakes to avoid and don’t use Google Keyword Planner for SEO.

As you research, you’ll want to use the seed keywords and terms you identified through stakeholder and competitor review.

Work to further expand these lists by finding related keywords.

5. Identify Topics:

Chances are, you’ve got a ton of individual words and phrases after you performed your keyword research.

The good news is that topics matter more than keywords.

You won’t be building out pages for every single keyword and you don’t need to. If you haven’t, you need to translate from keywords to topics.

To help get started on that, you can use the content on your site (unless you’re launching a new organization from scratch).

At some point, decisions were made on how to group content on the website into product, service, or topical structures.

I’m not assuming that your site navigation or information architecture is perfect. But, there are likely topics or themes there if you have some depth of content already.

You can use those topics as a starting point if you feel confident in them.

Regardless, if you looked through your full keyword research data, specific themes or topics have probably emerged naturally.

From your keyword list, ensure that you’ve found meaningful groups of topics.

These will likely be your ad groups for paid search or your content clusters or sections on the site for SEO focus.

6. Ensure Topical Relevance & Alignment:

With keyword research distilled down to specific topics and themes, you can then validate the keywords to make sure they are the right terms.

While it might seem like a great idea to want to rank for “cars” as a local car dealership – that might not be the best use of paid search budget or SEO investment.

Yes, technically, we are all about cars at the car dealership. But, we’re about a whole bunch of layers deeper and more specific in what we are really about.

If the person searching is looking for a brand I don’t carry new inventory for, I have wasted that effort or budget for that click.

Find the balance of your topics and keywords to ensure it is as closely tied as possible to your products, services, or content offerings.

7. Review the SERPs:

It might feel like we’ve used all of the filters and ways to validate our keywords we can.

However, with the ever-changing layout of the search engine results pages, we have to dedicate some time to manually looking at them.

Take some of your top keywords and topics and literally search for them on the search engines.

  • What comes up?
  • Do you see the competitors you expect?
  • Where do the organic and paid listings appear on the page?
  • Is there a lot of noise?

If you’re finding that the search results aren’t where you want to be or where your target audience is searching, then you might want to rethink the importance of those keywords or that topic in your strategy.

This is especially true for organic results. They can be pushed so far below the fold on desktop and phone browsers that even with the right keyword ranked number one, you still might not get the traffic to drive the conversions and end goals that you need.

8. Monitor Performance:

It’s only when your paid search and SEO plans are put into action that you’ll get the real data you need – and find out if you’ve picked the “right” keywords.

Certain keywords may perform better than others. There can be a large number of reasons why.

However, when you have data you can adjust the priority you put on specific topics and keywords. Or, you can identify other areas to optimize in your marketing or website.

Things to watch for:

  • Keywords that you can’t rank for organically.
  • Keywords that produce a lot of impressions but few clicks.
  • Keywords that produce a lot of traffic, but not a lot of conversions.

All of these are indicators to dig deeper and go back through the principles outlined.

I’d start by looking at the SERPs and then dig into analytics to see if there’s a conversion rate optimization need, a UX issue, or something deeper.

Conclusion:

The nature of search marketing and ever-changing landscape makes the word “right” feel subjective.

Technically, it is when choosing keywords for paid and organic search.

However, you have to start somewhere.

Make sure you have a way to ensure that the work that is being put into keyword research and optimization matters.

By knowing end goals, creating topics, and validating the keywords we’re choosing, we can put forth our best effort initially.

From there, the ongoing monitoring and validation doesn’t end.

We have to cycle through the principals to ensure that we did pick the right terms and that we continue to refine our campaigns and efforts with a focus on quality and performance.

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Tried & Tested Tips for Improving SEO & Developer Relations

Tried & Tested Tips for Improving SEO & Developer Relations

By | Networking Bizz News

The relationship between SEO professionals and developers is one typified by frustration and misunderstanding.

From an SEO perspective, it can be difficult to communicate the value and importance of search-related initiatives and to get them prioritized in development pipelines.

From a developer’s point of view, SEO can seem like a never-ending source of tickets and annoyance that delays them from delivering their work on time.

As web technologies become more advanced, SEO is becoming more technically sophisticated, which means it is increasingly important that we actively examine ways to work more harmoniously with development teams.

Over the past few months, I’ve been speaking with some of the most experienced and respected people in SEO and digital marketing to find out how they’ve built and nurtured relationships with development and engineering teams to achieve success.

In this post, I’m going to share some of the best insights from these conversations.

1. Heal the Wounds Left by Bad SEO Experiences:

While a large part of SEO is now focused on meeting the user intent of searchers with high-quality content, developers and other teams may still have a lingering mistrust of SEO pros.

The days of keyword stuffing and bulk link buying are no longer seen as popular or sustainable SEO practices by most, but it may take time and relationship building for an SEO to win the trust of developers because of their prior experiences.

At a previous job, JP Sherman, Manager of Search and Findability from Red Hat, needed to gain the trust of developers who had been burnt by a bad SEO agency.

Rather than going into the business and making demands of the developers about what needed to be changed from an SEO perspective, Sherman made a point sitting down with the company’s developers to establish their common goals and put a plan in place to achieve these while overcoming shared frustrations with the website.

After a year of this approach, he managed to build a level of trust with the development team and turned an audience of skeptics into SEO advocates.

2. Involve Developers by Hosting a Hackathon:

One novel way to get developers interested and engaged with SEO initiatives is by hosting a hackathon.

Polly Pospelova, Head of Search at Delete, organized a hackathon and invited the agency’s developers to participate.

The sole aim of the hackathon was to get a perfect score in Lighthouse for the agency’s own website.

The event was a massive success, as the developers were not only able to achieve a score of 100 in Lighthouse but this shared objective laid the blueprint for speed optimization work that Pospelova was able to roll to many of Delete’s clients.

Pospelova’s hackathon is an inspiring and original example of how SEO and marketing pros can work successfully with developers by working to achieve a common goal.

3. Embed Yourself in Your Client’s Organization:

From an agency’s perspective, it often isn’t enough to simply provide a list of SEO recommendations off the back of an audit and expect these to be actioned by the client’s developers.

Without clear explanations and prioritization of your SEO recommendations backed by a close understanding of the client’s business, there is a fair chance your suggestions will get lost amongst other priorities.

Arnout Hellemans, Consultant at OnlineMarketThink, suggests making an effort to embed agency staff within their client’s organization for a fruitful long-term relationship.

He’s spoken with agencies who send their staff out to work from their client’s offices for a couple of days every now and again.

Rather than the relationship, largely existing only Slack and emails, the agencies are able to build much stronger relationships with their client’s developers by sitting with them and better understanding their priorities, challenges, and ways of working.

4. Pick Your Battles Carefully:

While it’s clearly important for SEO pros to build strong relationships with developers, it can also pay to be strategic in terms of the recommendations that you push to be actioned.

It’s often the case that there are large numbers of actions resulting from an audit, but are all of them going to have the same impact?

Areej AbuAli, Technical SEO Manager at Zoopla, said it’s important to avoid overwhelming developers with too many recommendations at once.

She learned the hard way that it is beneficial to focus on getting the mission-critical items prioritized in development pipelines and actioned first before moving on to less pressing recommendations.

This approach helps to ensure that you’re maximizing your SEO impact, while not overwhelming developers with tickets of varying importance.

5. Become a Bridge Between the Technical and Commercial:

Being able to understand and empathize with both commercial and technical challenges and frustrations is another way that SEO professionals can work effectively with developers.

It’s important to become a bridge between the technical and commercial aspects of the business, according to Ecommerce Consultant Luke Carthy.

Have regular meetings with the business’s developers to empathize with the challenges that they face in order to help overcome shared pain points, Carthy suggested.

Doing so can help to put long term solutions in place and increase the chance of forming strong working relationships.

In his example, he listened closely to the company’s developers and raised their frustrations with the managing director so they were able to completely redevelop the site and stop papering over cracks with short-term solutions.

6. Upgrade Your Technical Skills:

Your ability to work with development teams as an SEO professional is going to greatly improve the more you’re able to speak their language and understand the challenges they face.

It’s one thing to be able to identify technical issues impacting the crawling and indexing of a website by search engines and raise that with a developer.

However, it’s far more valuable if you can debug technical issues and propose well-reasoned solutions after:

  • Evaluating the pros and cons of different approaches.
  • Taking into account the circumstances of the website, business and available resources.

AbuAli said it’s important to upskill and hone technical skills. This will help you move faster analyzing large datasets as an SEO.

Improving your technical skills and better understanding of how the web works will empower you to have more productive conversations with developers.

This leaves less room for misunderstanding and leads to more agile decision making.

7. Establish Yourself as a Trusted Authority:

Another crucial component to building trust and a healthy relationship with development teams is to show yourself to be knowledgeable in your field.

Actively promote ongoing education on SEO topics that are relevant to the business.

At Red Hat, Sherman hosts regular presentations and in-person meetings, and writes documentation to encourage discussion and interest within development teams who wouldn’t otherwise be keeping up to date with SEO developments.

He aims to lay out the case for making SEO improvements in advance of search engine changes (like mobile-first indexing) through knowledge-sharing sessions.

When this work is then prioritized, Sherman makes sure he backs this up with internal guidance and documentation that is ready to share with the relevant people.

Sherman also acknowledged that it can be frustrating when SEO recommendations aren’t prioritized or actioned but sometimes it’s important to understand that your suggestions are necessarily going to be the best thing for the website or business to do at that time.

8. Get SEO Involved from the Beginning:

One common frustration between SEO professionals and developers is that the former gets involved far too late on projects.

This is an annoyance for developers because they are likely going to receive a lot of last-minute SEO related tasks that they don’t necessarily see the benefit of completing.

From an SEO point of view, being involved too late on in a project will mean we are forced to fight fires and make last-minute development requests to avert disaster impacting a website’s organic performance.

Chris Green, Head of Marketing Innovation at Footprint Digital, said it’s important to get SEO considerations into projects from their inception rather than as an afterthought.

After completing hundreds of migrations, Green has acknowledged that SEO pros aren’t usually the most popular people on projects.

But this can be averted by making compromises and focusing on the tasks that are critical to organic performance and technical health rather than adding to the developers workloads for the sake of SEO best practice.

For example, during a migration SEO pros should be prioritizing things like 301s, crawl budget optimization’, and breadcrumbs rather than social media icon alt tags, minimum word counts, and rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

Share Your Experiences
I hope this post has featured a helpful selection of ideas to help you work more effectively with development teams.

I would be keen to continue the discussion in the comments below. Share your experiences, approaches, and tips about what’s worked and hasn’t worked for you.

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sem vs seo vs ppc

SEM vs. SEO vs. PPC Defined: What’s the Difference?

By | Digital Marketing & Google News

What’s the Difference?

As someone who likes to think he is organized – or, as someone who at least likes to organize things – I’ve attempted to treat digital marketing terms similarly.

The same can be said for now-Googler and search industry pioneer Danny Sullivan when he began routinely using the term “search engine marketing” in 2001 to describe the overarching niche within the digital marketing industry that focuses on search engines.

As my thinking went (and as Sullivan admits he intended), search engine marketing, or SEM, would be (and once was) a useful way to summarize and classify both the paid and non-paid initiatives that go into digital marketing via search engines.

That would mean both the pay-per-click advertisements, or PPC ads, and the organic search initiatives commonly referred to as search engine optimization, or SEO, would fall under that SEM blanket term.

SEM would be the category of marketing through search engines. The paid (PPC) and non-paid (SEO) channels of SEM would both fall under it in terms of hierarchy.

And, even when you consider the literal terminology in coordination with this idea of SEO and PPC falling under that SEM blanket, it almost makes sense.

But, much like the English language, pop culture, and the Cleveland Browns, it simply can’t work the way it’s supposed to.

There will always be exceptions to the rule (like the aforementioned conundrums above).

So, confusing it may be. But the search industry shapes itself, and it has not agreed with Mr. Sullivan over the years, adopting the term SEM to fit strictly into the paid search sphere.

It surely appears it’s there to stay, too.

Difference Between SEM & PPC:

PPC is SEM.

That is, pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is the same as search engine marketing (SEM), or at least a vital part of it.

SEO is none of those things.

What likely evolved over time due to the multiple potentially confusing digital marketing acronyms, as well as the need to define specific paid initiatives outside of Google paid search, brought two heavily used cost-driven marketing terms to mean the same thing (leading to even more potential confusion from newbies).

I’ve always tried to make sense of the literal meaning of things, too, especially acronyms.

But from there, it’s easy to get even more lost in the idea.

While the breakdown of the abbreviation PPC is spot on — regardless if it’s called PPC, CPC, paid search, search ads – we know it is referring to paid search marketing, typically through search engines like Google and Bing.

Other terms and tactics used in digital marketing initiatives – especially those tied to search marketing tactics (both paid and organic) – may not be so simple and clearly defined, though.

Difference Between SEO & PPC:

We know SEO is search engine optimization.

But, to echo the sentiments of search pioneer Mike Grehan, that never did make much sense.

Marketers aren’t optimizing search engines; we’re optimizing content and websites for search engines (secondly, right after optimizing them for humans) so they can better understand, access, and relay our property to the masses.

Again, acronyms don’t always make sense. So, naturally, this is a bit illogical.

Just like other things in life that don’t always add up, there are some acronyms that will never make sense either.

Like Humvee, which doesn’t stand for any words that start with U or E in them. (It actually stands for High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, and was spawned from the original acronym, HMMWV.)

We’ve also determined that PPC marketing is (at least now) the same as, or a very large part of, SEM.

  • Both are paid initiatives.
  • Both need budget.
  • Both make search engines like Google and other advertising platforms a lot of money.

But, while Wikipedia defines SEM as “a form of Internet marketing that involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs) primarily through paid advertising,” it’s not so quick to call them the same exact thing.

In fact, pay-per-click marketing has its own separate Wikipedia page than the topic of search engine marketing (despite there being plenty of discrepancies and confusion throughout the page).

The bottom line is this:

SEO is not a component of SEM.

And, while PPC is typically the largest and most demanding component of SEM, both PPC and SEM are paid initiatives that offer real-time data, ROI, and protected data that can only be accessed by advertisers of certain platforms.

Why It Matters:

The most important reason for clarification around these important terms and abbreviations is consistency.

Too many novice marketers, or marketers who aren’t specialists in maximizing value through search, have adopted these industry definitions and crossed them, combined them, confused them, and used them in a way that only further diluted their true meaning.

And even well-seasoned marketers who simply didn’t agree with or possibly even completely understand the terms themselves help contribute to the turning tide as well.

Conferences have set up entire segments of their educational offering around the SEM naming convention when referring to strictly paid marketing efforts, but those efforts aren’t strictly done through search engines.

SEM, at least from this perspective, includes PPC ads on search engines but also on third-party platforms like Amazon and YouTube, as well as industry-focused platforms like Houzz, or Thumbtack, or Yelp. It also includes display ads and remarketing efforts.

And, as the opportunity to advertise on social media continues to grow, it tends to include paid advertising on those networks, too.

Keeping the definitions and their usage consistent is going to be the best way to keep the information organized in a way that makes sense for marketers.

It also helps us as marketers to convey our thoughts and ideas to clients and their stakeholders, our peers, or a friend who is curious about what exactly it is we do for a living.

Using the Marketing Right Terms for the Right People & Setting:

When discussing digital marketing – specifically search marketing – and how it pertains to a brand or message, it’s important for marketers to use language that is digestible for clients and potential clients.

Needless to say, 8 out of 10 times, non-marketers already don’t know the difference between incredibly different key terms.

Like SEO and PPC (or SEM), when speaking to someone outside of the search marketing community, these terms need to be clearly defined at least once, and typically more than once, throughout the conversation.

We all have those new-business pitch stories where a client goes on throughout years of his or her life thinking SEO is responsible for paid search ads or that paid search ads were achieved through organic optimizations.

First, the terms must be understood on a level playing field. Hopefully, this post helps do that.

We now are in agreement that:

  • SEM and PPC refer to paid initiatives through search and other advertising platforms on the internet.
  • While SEO is the organic effort that goes into marketing through search engines.

Secondly, we must always consider who the audience is and the level of knowledge it has when it comes to digital marketing, particularly search marketing, while also ensuring we detail:

  • What each term means.
  • How it works.
  • How it relates to the audience’s goals.

Lastly, and most importantly, we must never assume someone on the other end of our conversation knows what we are referring to when we use important industry terms like SEO, PPC, or SEM.

We must be concise and explain exactly what is we are talking about. Ensure the group partaking in the conversation is in agreement.

On a bad day, someone else in the room may disagree and tell us we are wrong.

On a good day, though, we’ll get a room full of people all on the same page who are able to move forward and correctly use consistent terminology for some of the most important practices in digital marketing today.

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