Tag Archives: online marketing

Mobile Search Adoption Slowing?

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.

seoleaderIn 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.

Bare Bones SEO For Those Who Are Budget Challenged

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?

taoofseoHere’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.

New Marketing Challenges Appear

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.

closelookAlmost 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.

Are Backlinks Poisonous For Your Site

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.

link-buildingDirectory 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.

Online Shopping Frenzy About To Start

growthWith 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.

Is Social Media Marketing Worth The Effort

An interesting question that crops up from time to time that still surprises me, is when a client we’ve been working with for a number of months asks if social media is “worth it”.

social-mediaWhere social media is concerned, there’s a short answer to that question, as well as the long version. The short answer would be a unquestioning yes, while the longer version isn’t negative, although it’s not as clearly positive as the short version. There is a real reason behind the difference in the answers however, and I’ll get to those in a minute. But first I’ll give a few pointers as to why social media is a good thing to do in general.

The way that I’ve found is simplest to describe social media marketing to clients with the least amount of confusion is to use the idea of parking lot flyers. You know the ones, when you go to the mall to pick up your holiday shopping and you come outside to find a flyer underneath your wiper blades or a card tucked into your window frame. It’s mildly inconvenient, only in that you have a slip of paper or cardboard to deal with, but chances are in that split second while you deal with you, you’ll be reading the content of that piece of paper. You get your message out to hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in very short order, but there’s no immediate response or interaction between you. That’s the clear short answer of “yes social media marketing is good”.

Social marketing methods like using Twitter or Facebook kind of fall into the same level of advertisement quality. The key difference though where the web is concerned is how actively you want to engage your potential audience. And this is where the grey area comes into play with using that type of audience interaction. With the flyer idea, it’s like a fire and forget method, and you get what you get in the end. The conversion and retention rates are likely to be low, but you’re going for a saturation effect. But where online is concerned, you’ll be able to directly correspond with your customer base, so you can engage them in conversation, whether it’s to answer questions about your advertising campaign or perhaps a special that you’re trying to promote. The long answer of “yes it’s good but..” is you will only get as much out of social media marketing as you’re able to put into it. If you can only setup a campaign but pay no attention to it, you’re just as well off paying a couple of youths to distribute flyers in a mall parking lot.

Sometimes Even A Little Can Be Too Much

There are any number of missteps that can affect your website and how it ranks online, but there is one in particular which gets under an SEOs skin quicker than any other. Any guesses as to what that might be?

GrumpInstead of playing 20 questions to try and take up a bunch of time let’s just come right out and talk about it. The most trouble some aspect of any search campaign isn’t the search engines themselves. It can often turn out to be a business owner, or an internal IT guy at a business who feels they “know enough” to do the same work that we do as search professionals. I’ve been over it a number of times, but you will always get what you pay for in the professional business world, and when you try and double dip in expertise it can most often end up costing your business time and money. And where even a day of traffic could potentially cost your business substantial sums, thousands of dollars – millions maybe, are the temporary savings worth it?

A little bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing in these cases.

The over abundance of information available online is a blessing, and a curse. It allows us as a professional agency an avenue to share with our clients to explain trends, topics, and some of the methods which we use to help their search positioning. Those are the explainable, tangible metrics that are easy for the layman to understand about the search game. Where the trouble starts is with all of the nuances associated with the game, and for every visible aspect there are ten hidden facets. Just a very simple example of how much difference even a letter can make, try a singular and a plural search – something like ‘house for sale’ and ‘houses for sale’. To a person there is virtually no difference, a single letter ‘s’ is all that separates the two terms. But to a search engine they are almost entirely different searches, and your results will be different from my own.

It’s a point that I learned very early on while being coached in the industry, but even something as innocuous as a letter, can make all the difference between being number 1, and being invisible.

How Not To Be Found

More often than not you’re looking to have your website visibility increased when contracting an online branding agecny, but as a different train of thought, did you realize you can use them to hide your website as well from the search engines?

taoofseoTo clarify a tad, you don’t typically engage a marketing agency to hide your business, but there are cases where you would want to keep the search engines at bay. Depending on the way your site is constructed for example, you’ll want to keep them out of your image files, or perhaps you have an extensive pdf collection hosted on your site, and you’d rather keep them from being indexed as part of your website. Maybe it’s even a new website build being done to update your look and content, and that needs to be completely hidden from the search engines until you’re ready to go live, just in case the bots get confused – they’re not intelligent at all in this respect. For those reasons, I submit a short list, on how not to be found on the search engines.

One of the simplest and quickest ways to be hidden from the search engines is by editing your web hosts robots.txt file. Not all website owners have access to change this file, but when you can it can be used to restrict search engine behaviour like nothing else. With just a simple phrase, ‘disallow’, you can completely obscure your site or pages from being found by search engine spiders. But just as uncle Ben said ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ you need to be extremely careful with what you choose to disallow to the search engines, you may inadvertently block key components or pages of your site, rendering any search engine marketing efforts useless.

If the robots.txt change is too broad a stroke for your case, but you still have certain areas you would like to restrict the search engines from finding certain pages, you can use a meta string of code in the head of each webpage you’d like to keep from being indexed. It’s even as easy as it sounds, all you need to do is add the switch meta=noindex to hide a certain page, and there are a handful of additional switches which could be added to sculpt search engines flow through your site.

The two last methods for restricting bot activity on your website are the biggest guns in the game, and that’s using 404 pages for dead ends, and if you really get serious, 301 redirects to send bots and visitors alike to a different destination all together. These are the big redirects however, affecting your visitors and bots alike, and are not to be taken lightly. Sculpting your traffic flow entirely to a different destination is one that needs to be taken with care and foresight. One improperly executed 301 or 404 in your website, could bring your entire marketing campaign crumbling to the ground.

Is Google Being Overly Manipulative

There are always changes in the search game, but with some of the recent changes is Google trying to change the rules enough so that they’re the only player in the game? Perhaps a little bit of a backstory is in order, I’ll aim to keep it as streamlined as possible.

closelookA couple of years back Google introduced the newest addition to their search tool, if you wre signed into your account you could visit the secure version of Google.com to perform your searches. The end result of using the secure site was your keywords were not passed through to the website you eventually landed on, guaranteeing you some level of privacy – this was in 2010. This primary iteration of the search term accounted for maybe 10% in your analytics software. In 2011 they took it a step further and removed the need to use the secure site of Google.com, and instead pushed the privacy settings on to anyone who was signed into their account. In 2011 this translated to be the constant 25%-35% amount that search agencies grew accustomed to seeing in their analytics software when poring through a clients analytics. This was pushed slowly down the line and was added to the omnibar search in the Google Chrome browser and the search team mentioned they were working to make it a full time feature.

The most recent, and most drastic change has come about resulting in a full time secure search experience for any user, regardless of browser, being logged in or even having a Google account. The result from an analytics stand point? The result in analytics software jumped from a normal 25% to nearly 75% of the searches for a single day. Over the long term this would make any search agencies job more difficult to be sure. The thoughts are maybe this swift, unannounced change is due to the NSA spying scandal that has been making rounds in the news, another more lurid idea is that it has been done to boost ad sales in the Google AdWords platform.

The idea that Google would use the encrypted search results to push more businesses into using AdWords may sound outlandish, but over the last couple of years Google has made some interesting acquisitions. Between 2010 and 2013 Google purchased ownership, or partnership in strategic ad companies. One handles ad exchanges, another handles SEM and crowd sourced funding, and another goes even further to promote full advertising and ad handling services within Google. All of their purchases combined puts Google in display media advertising, social media agency growth, and has ownership and partnerships in different AdWords agencies.

So a quick recap takes us to where Google has picked up a handful of new advertising and ad delivery systems, as well as having implemented an entirely secure search environment. How these two systems work together is why it may be seen that Google made the drastic shift for their gain. Although the encrypted search returns a value of where organic search is concerned, paid search analytics are unaffected. Back to the original thought then, has Google changed the game enough that they’re trying to make themselves the only game on the web?

The Foundation Of The Web

Do you happen to know where the foundation of the search engine results pages came from, which element was it that determined where your website sits in the grand search scheme.

linkfishFor a long time it was thought that in Googles case that a high Pagerank was the pinnacle goal for any website to rank well in their SERPs, but that is no longer, nor ever was, the case. Before Google came along and completely changed the search scene, there was no real index for the internet. Yahoo was one of the first to start building an index for the web, and it was more of a directory listing than an index that brought you results pages. The real foundation of the web index as known today was built on the backlinks which pull the web together, any high profile website on the front page for the most competitive terms has an extensive, relevant backlink profile.

Any marketing campaign taken on by a qualified SEO will include a backlink building program, but even if you don’t have the means to hire an agency to do the work for you, you can still take a small part of the work on for yourself. Backlinks clearly matter to results pages ranking, but there is a right way to go about building them, and a wrong way.

To begin with, if you’re stuck trying to build your own backlinks don’t start spamming emails all over the web asking people to provide links to your website. That’s akin to telemarketers calling your house to try and sell you an upgraded cable package, it’s abrupt and an unwelcome approach to any webmaster new or old. If you’ve taken the time to find a website in a similar space that is relevant to your website, be up front and reciprocal with your link request, offering a link back to them is more an exchange of services as opposed to demanding one. And as a rule of thumb, if you don’t get a reply email, a phone call or a link to your website then it is safe to assume the answer is no – don’t push what can’t be changed.

Another method which used to be all the rage for building your own backlink profile on the cheap was to post guest blogs or in blog comments related to your niche market. With some of the recent changes to the webmaster guidelines those links and posts are almost entirely no-follow tagged, meaning that on the positive side your time is wasted in using these measures. The downside would be if the blog, forum or guest post domain has a bad rep with the search engines and you end up impacting your site negatively as a consequence of using those methods. If you’re choosing to go down the route of using a blog to try and build backlinks, create one for yourself and devote your time to creating relevant and interesting content for yourself. Cross promote yourself on your own social media pages and slowly and steadily the backlinks will naturally build themselves up.