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It’s one thing to read news and conjecture about the death of search engine optimization, but it’s another point all together when the provider comes forward and admits that their organic search is failing.
No the news hasn’t come from any major search engine, but it has come from the worlds largest social network – Facebook. It has really only been a year or so since Facebook has come out with their graph search – their newest search iteration that tries to show you what is included in your social circles in only a few keystrokes. There were two main points that they’ve shared that has raised the ire search marketers across the web.
We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site (Facebook). We’re getting to a place where because more people are sharing more things, the best way to get your stuff seen if you’re a business is to pay for it.
So in short, now that Facebook has the attention of somewhere north of a billion users, they’re telling business page owners that if you want to be seen, you’re better off paying them if you want to be seen.
So if you have a business page on Facebook, you aren’t completely lost with the surprising information – you do have options that you can exercise instead of just abandoning the Facebook ship. One of the primary things you can do if you don’t want to deal with the changes is to completely jump ship for the other social media services out there – LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ namely. They all have their pros and cons, LinkedIn is a more professional social network and allows you to build a professional relationship around their network of users. Twitter allows you to speak instantly, and clearly to anyone who wants to listen, and Google+ while still relatively unused as a social service, has developed an almost rabid fan following of users.
Your other choice is to roll with the punches that Facebook is throwing your way and adapt to their upcoming changes and see where you come out on the other side. While paid advertising works on any network whether it’s social or search, you need to understand that a high portion of your budget is going to become general advertising overhead. It also needs to be understood that if you decide to use Facebook as a traffic generator, that your budget will have to also increase as you’ll essentially be paying people to see your page and website.
It is yet to be determined what the outcome for Facebook will be with this change to their organic algorithm, but with the change just being announced it has already caused some major friction in the search game, the social impact is yet to be seen.
In the quest for online dominance, where do you believe is the best place to lay your allegiance – Do you go after organic dominance, social dominance, or diversify?
Not that it should really be a difficult question, but putting all of your eggs in one basket, whether it be organic or social, has never been a good idea. There are pros an cons to each area of online visibility the question that really needs to be asked and answered is what type of balance should you go after as a website owner?
Going after the top of the charts for organic listings is an almost immeasurably powerful position. When you’re in the top 3 results for your key term targets you can easily enjoy 95% or more traffic than being at number 5 or 6 on the results pages. The direct benefit of being in those top spots can be the difference between sending your staff on a paid holiday as a Christmas bonus, or taking them all out to McDonalds for lunch. In a survey conducted earlier this year it was determined that being number 1 for your search term safely netted you more than a third of all traffic for that term, while being number 5 and less, dropped you to the 5% of all traffic. And the reason is actually fairly simple – users like quick and easy to get to their end destination. When a user searches for a service, say they need a banner printer locally, it’s unlikely that they will scroll down the first page passed the first couple of results as they’ll get a listing of all of the local businesses that can provide them with a banner. And when you incorporate into the organic results the inclusion of maps results when someone is looking for a business, it’s even more likely that the user won’t scroll down the page.
The only real downside to organic search engine marketing is the time factor, it takes time for your site to be listed appropriately. And with the constant changes to the search engine algorithms, what is best practices today, may be a red flag the next, it’s a continually evolving landscape that needs to monitored and tended to. As a result of the due diligence required to appropriately monitor the fluctuating search changes, there is often the cost required to keep your SEO on call in order to meet the changes head on.
Social dominance is a whole other ball of wax that requires a different spin in order to capitalize on the marketplace. When you become a force to be reckoned with in the social arena your business enjoys the fandom of (hopefully) thousands of immediate customers and subscribers that are already part of your qualified consumer base. The potential of viral marketing is currently unmatched in how quickly it can bring your company to the attention of your local audience, and potentially even the world. So in short, the social area provides you with a prequalified audience of consumers, the quick sharing of information across multiple channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and the potential to go viral and become world known in a relatively short time frame.
A negative to the added visibility and power of the social arena though is first off, it takes a fair bit of time to acquire your consumer base and make them believers in your products and service. It’s much like you’re contracting them to be your sales force by sharing your message as you share with them, and this required a fair bit of personal dedication. And with the potential to go viral with an incredible message (like the recent Westjet video) the potential to run afoul of the internet exists as well. Being active in the social arena needs to be carefully tempered, and your marketing team needs to be diligent in their handling of customers, both positive and negative so as not to find themselves on the wrong side of the news.
There has been a huge surge in mobile search usage over the last few years with the growth of mobile devices in the world. But as in any industry experiencing growth, there are always a few growing pains.
In a survey conducted last month it there were a few surprising discoveries made, which should make both search providers and website owners sit up and take notice. Of all of the respondents nearly 75% of them said that while they all use search on their mobile device, it was more difficult to use. Another interesting take away from the survey was that while the realization that even with the entirety of the internet at their fingertips, just over 21% of mobile users don’t use their devices to conduct a search of any kind. While it was surprising to find that so many don’t take advantage of using search on their mobile devices, it was interesting to note that most users search the same on mobile as they do on their desktop computers.
Where the search providers really need to sit up and start to take notice is when mobile users were quizzed on their experiences while searching the web from their phones and tablets. Of everyone surveyed, more than 60% of the people who responded said that it was more difficult to search using mobile than it is to use a desktop computer. Google and iPhones have been pushing mobile voice command search and the like, but less than 20% of users took advantage of the feature.
The survey was conducted just last month and from a relatively small sample size of just a few hundred, but the results should be noted. If you own a website you need to make sure that it is mobile friendly, the current buzz term for it would be “responsive design”. Ensure you make your content easily viewable on mobile and relevant to their search, and you’ll find yourself reaping the advantages of taking the time and doing the job correct the first time.
If you have children or grandchildren you NEED to read this. Lots of people have no idea this could happen from taking pictures on the blackberry or cell phone. It’s scary.
The storage of location based data, in the form of Latitude and Longitude inside of images is called Geotagging; essentially tagging your photograph with the geographic location. This data is stored inside if the metadata if JPEG images and is useful for tying the photograph to a location. Want to remember exactly where you took those photographs while on vacation? This information is for you.
However, most modern digital cameras do not automatically add geolocation (Latitude and Longitude) metadata to pictures. The process for adding the geolocation data either requires specialized add on hardware, or post processing with software on the desktop after the pictures are taken.
There is a large exception to this rule: Smartphones. With the proliferation of smart phones that contain GPS locator technology inside, the cameras in these devices are already equipped with the specialized hardware to automatically add geolocation information to the pictures at the time they are taken.
Most people don’t realize that the action of automatic geotagging takes place on their smart phones, either because it is enabled by default, not exposed the user as an option, or was asked and then forgotten. As a result, individuals often share too much information about their location, right down to the exact Latitude and Longitude when snapping photos with their smartpphone and posting them online.
The easiest way to stop posting this information for all to see it to disable geotagging on your smartphone. Read This About Geotagging
Two of the biggest online shopping shopping days have come and passed with Cyber Monday and Black Friday, did you make sure to capitalize? Based on a recent industry polling, it seems that it’s likely that you didn’t.
The growth that Canadian retailers have been experiencing online for the last year or so has slowed to such a crawl that it’s nearly at a standstill. It is doubly important to get your collective heads in the game, especially since consumers savvy hasn’t slowed in the slightest where shopping is concerned. Online spending has been on a swift rise for more than 4 years in Canada, but has all but shifted to south of the border due to retailers not homing in on this trend and capitalizing. Of course there is a cost to developing a proper ecommerce site but the benefit drastically outweighs that cost. There are some major brands out there of course which have their ecommerce solutions built and took advantage of the billions of dollars that were spent in the last week online, but most missed out than benefited, and even some who should know better lost out where ecommerce in Canada is concerned.
When Target made its big launch into Canada in March it didn’t include an online store, Canadian Tire only sells tires online and although it plans to enact a wider e-commerce strategy next year, it will focus on letting consumers ship purchases to their nearest store, not to their home, a key difference between Canadian and US ecommerce stores. Consumers aren’t blind to the fact that there are often better deals and more selection available if they do some cross-border online shopping, even after factoring in all of the extra charges that are a part of online shopping. And where do we rank according to a poll just a couple of months old? Compared to other countries of our technological savvy, we come in pretty much last where ecommerce sales are concerned. Our closest comparison is Australia at this point, and even they are a few years ahead of us in sophistication. In that same poll more than 75% of the consumers in the survey said they would use the web to help them decide which stores to shop at this holiday season and which brands to purchase. And of those, about half said they’d use their mobile phone as a shopping tool. You may have lost out on the shopping from this passed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, don’t let the rest of the holiday season get away from you.
Occasionally it can be a bit of a frustrating go of things with a client when they’re not willing to be educated on the finer points of SEO. It isn’t a common occurrence, but it does happen from time to time.
To hopefully help nip things in the bud before the bad information digs into you too much, here are just a couple of the more useful points to bear in mind. One of the bigger points that seems to escape the marketing folks out there is that proper optimization is not a one time thing. There’s no such thing as a fire and forget method that will work for everyone out there. Every site, every client, every niche market needs to have it’s own individual and unique attention. Adaptation and constant evaluation are necessities in order to keep your positions in the results pages.
Every client we take on we always ask to provide us with their ideal keywords. Sometimes they’re realistic – say they sell camper trailers and they want to rank locally for their term, it’s an intense process but it can be done. Where it starts to get a little silly though and we need to advise some restraint is if that same client wanted to rank all across Canada for the term “RV” for example. Could it be done? Sure with enough time, money and work we could likely make the site show up but would that really be the best use of time and resources?
The last point I’ll touch on for today is one that’s a little more obscure to a site owner, but it doesn’t make it any less important than the others. It actually enters the realm of not only SEO and how search engines find and rank your website, but your customers and visitors. While we’re working together to build and rank your website you need to bear in mind that you’re not only trying to rank your website better in the search engines, you’re also trying to convert those visitors to paying customers, email/newsletter sign ups, or even just contact information for an offline business. You can’t build a site for your purposes only, nor can you build it for just the search engines – your visitors are always your end goal.
There’s a lot of talk about all aspects of search engine optimization (SEO) on the web it only takes a few moments to find all sorts of information about every point imaginable. The problem that a lot of small business owners who try to do things themselves run into though is what advice do you follow?
Here’s a couple of simple tips to follow when you maybe don’t have the budget to hire an online branding and marketing agency. First off you need to realize that just because you have a website, it doesn’t mean that anyone will find it online. A website is an amazingly powerful tool that can be used as a 24/7/365 store front to the world, but again only if people can find it. The simplest and most efficient step to being found is to have content relevant to what you want to be known for. Your business sells apple pies? Well your content at the beginning should be about apple pies then and not strudel, while they’re both desserts made with apples they couldn’t be more opposite when talking about online marketing. Following along in the same line of thinking, big beautiful pictures are great marketing tools for users, but search engine bots don’t have eyes so they can’t see that perfectly baked crust you can create. You need to describe it using text on the page, your content again, and you need to make it descriptive as well.
So great, we have the ball rolling with your content creation about your new apple pie selling website, and you’ve made sure to balance your text and images appropriately. A big mistake that we see site owners getting caught in is the problem of stopping their updating process or abandoning it all together, hoping that their current setup will continue to serve them as well next year, as it does today. That would be true if the internet never changed or evolved, but unfortunately it’s always changing. Sometimes as often as two to three times a day there are algorithm adjustments, and that can wreak havoc on an advertising campaign. Keep your content fresh as well as relevant, and you’ll keep the search bots happy and your positions agreeable.
Now you’re updating your site and you’re keeping your content relevant, now comes the hardest part of all – waiting. One of the biggest misconceptions about advertising online and building your business online is that it’s instant. And while there is a shred of truth to that statement, to have a lasting position in the results pages takes time. Adwords are instant visibility, but that can run into the hundreds if not thousands of dollars per month if you’re in a competitive market. In the last few months some of the major competitive industries have gone up to millions of dollars per month, just to stay at the top of the paid search results. So be patient, if you really are keeping your content fresh and relevant, you will begin to creep a little here and there and before you know it, you may even be working your way up page 1 of the results.
A lot of challenges immediately show themselves when working with a brand new optimization client. And when it comes right down to the start of things, it’s that first stint of around 3 months that tells us what we need to make you the best in your market.
Almost the best case scenario that we can hope for as online marketers is to start a campaign with a properly built website that had followed the best practices guide, that hasn’t been touched by any other marketers or agencies. Now the odds of that happening are very slim to none, so we work with what we find. Often it is a bit of a jumble of tactics that can be found across the web, the only real problem is that we have to take the time to dig through the convoluted mess to determine each step that was taken. Text is fairly simple to work with, and as long as it is relevant to your market that’s a positive for your marketing angle.
What gets really sketchy and a problem though is when we find that the old designer/developers decided to follow some advice they read on a blog or forum and convince a client to build off site landing pages and don’t properly link them all back to the main website. This can cause duplicate content issues, accidental removal from the index because it looks like you’ve scraped content for your websites. There can be multiple urls that are diluting your authority, and hopefully there hasn’t been anything done that could truly jeopardize your website or your true marketing potential.
Perhaps it’s the intangible nature of organic search engine optimization that new clients have difficulty in grasping, but the methods employed by the team here at Freshtraffic are done with the top of the search results in mind.
There’s a number of tactics which can be used to rank your website using off site methods, all with the goal of garnering those elusive backlinks for your website. There are however, a handful of types of backlinks which you should ensure that your search engine optimization provider makes it a point to avoid. When you’re discussing your strategy with them it would be wise to keep any of the following terms in mind.
Directory links used to be a common method to gain a huge amount of links to point back to your website, the idea being that the cumulative weight of the mostly relevant content delivered more authority to your website. In the last couple of years though there has been an influx of poorly written and low quality spun content, and with the introduction of Panda and Penguin it essentially ended the value of using this type of linking strategy. While it won’t tank your your website rankings or your site marketing in general, it doesn’t add any value and may eventually become a negative marketing technique.
It is a good idea to generate press releases for your business every now and then just to generate link bait articles linking back to your business and website. What you don’t want to do however is spam low quality press releases like you’ve just painted your office or bought a new delivery vehicle for example. Practical, positive press releases are what you’re after, client signings, business growth, and the addition of products and services are all good points which if written well can generate traffic in your niche market. At this point in the search game the a good portion of the known spammy press release sites have been disregarded by Google, so if you’re contemplating releasing one, make it a great one.
The time it takes to manage all of the backlinks you currently have pointing to your website, weighing their context and their value is all part and parcel of the SEO package. It is a cost that is always a part of your online branding campaign, and not a minor task. This is a large portion of our time as an SEO agency which we have to devote to your campaign to ensure that you’ve got the best possible chance to be found in the top results of the search engines.
With Black Friday just a couple of weeks away and Cyber Monday kicking holiday shopping into high gear you need to ask yourself – is your business ready? Or how about this question – is my website poised to take a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie that is online holiday shopping?
If you haven’t taken the time to engage an SEO professional to help with any sagging SERP listings, then you’re somewhat out of luck for being able to be in place to make a piece of that money pot your own. That would be the short answer to the issue of having less than stellar search positions but not to fret, there are some short term methods you can use to hopefully snag some of that holiday frenzy spending.
A simple way to get your business name out there with some holiday enthusiasm would be to go down the AdWords road. Set yourself a budget, create a handful of eye catching ads and get set to sell. There are only two large downsides to using a pay per click campaign to boost your holiday sales, one is the cost that it will take. You’re not the only player in the game, so the PPC costs will go up this time of year. The other issue is that of your ad copy, your content of your website needs to be relevant to your ad campaign. If you’re trying to sell blue suede shoes, then you would be burning money if you wrote ads selling red velvet capes. Make sure your ad copy is relevant and correctly directed, and monitor your budget. You’ll have some fluctuations with the holiday rush just starting to pick up, but there’s nothing worse than being at a high point with sales only to lose visibility and traction due to lack of funds.
Another way you could use to generate visibility for your product and increase sales is to rely on social media. Use Twitter and Facebook to promote your business and products, announce sales and do give aways to generate a following. Once you have a few thousand followers on your channels, you add in your holiday specials, announcements and maybe even a coupon scheme to help your customers save money. The only real downside to using this method to generate traffic is it takes your time away from your business. The more quality time you can put into your social media accounts, the more qualified your customers will be.