Tagged with " website optimization"
Out of all of the problems that can arise with a search campaign, one of the largest is often the client themselves. Whether it’s knowingly or unknowingly the client who is asking for help, often is the one who gets in the way the most. How you may ask? Lets discuss some of the worst examples of how a client can cause issues for their SEO.
Being Uninvolved – Being aware that you need to leverage a search campaign in order to bring growth to your website is great, but when you’re unable to be reached it causes major issues for us as a marketing agency. You need to be involved when you sign on with any SEO, whether it’s an agency or a contracted professional to work for you, when we ask you for material – text, image or otherwise, we need it to be delivered. We can’t help you if you can’t, or won’t provide us with the updated content material we require to fit your branding objective.
Being Too Involved – We always tell our clients that should they have any questions they can call and talk to any one of us about their concerns. What does happen sometimes, albeit rarely, is we end up with a client who needs constant updates on the work that we’re doing. While we are happy to provide monthly updates about your position changes and about how your branding campaign is evolving, when you call 3-4 times per week regarding every little snippet of information you read on the web it impedes our work that we are trying to do for you. Being too involved is a rare issue, but it does cause significant problems for us as search professionals. Could you imagine trying to climb into your engine compartment when your mechanic is trying to replace your head gasket?
Being Too Curious – This can often be the result when a client who is interested in what we do at a technical level, starts trying to play with the changes we’ve made to their website. The problems start appearing when our work is unraveled by a client who often does all of their own website work, typically it begins when a site owner is a technically minded person themselves. It’s great that you know how to work on your website, but when you make sweeping changes to your layout or to the site and it’s pages after we’ve gone over them, all you do is ruin any efforts we have worked out for you. Search engine optimization is as much a technical exercise as it is marketing, creative, and is such a nuanced market that the real pros are easily distinguishable among the rest.
These examples are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are a slew of variations that occur in every client. Every SEO professional dreams of that perfect client, which does occur every now and then. Delivers content when asked, sets up access required and pays their invoice on time. And relating to the last point especially, leaves our work alone to do what it’s meant to do, there is nothing worse that working up a campaign for weeks only to find that the site has been changed and all of the off site work is now irrelevant.
Every now and then when taking an inquiry on the phone, we get asked what it is that we do. Turns out that when you tell people that we deal with online branding and internet marketing, they manage to disconnect those terms with SEO, and instead assume that our focus is on pay per click rankings and such. The truth of those terms however, is that they’re all related, and all different from each other.
Search engine optimization – This is most likely the term you searched for when landing on our website. SEO has been a big buzz word in marketing circles the last few years especially, with the explosion of consultants appearing on the scene. There’s millions and millions of pages online to find information about SEO, and it’s extremely easy to read a forum or two and suddenly decide you know what you’re doing with search. The quick and easy test to discover if the person who is helping you is good at their job? Search for them, if they can’t appear in search for their industry terms, how can they realistically help you?
Online Branding – Online branding is a different goal for your website, and it’s as simple as defining the term. Anyone with a website and a business will only benefit from branding themselves and then growing that brand on the web to suit their offline image. It’s done with the idea that just by the mention of your business name, it conjours up your logo, slogan, and/or design scheme associated with your products or services. The way this plays out online for you is two fold, as you’ll be recognized as an authority in your market by the search engines, and your website (if your developer has done to the SEOs specifications) will be highly relevant as well.
Pay Per Click – This goes by a couple of industry wide terms, AdWords is more revolving around Google with their sponsored ads campaign and search engine marketing as a more all encompassing term when you’re talking about paid advertisements around the web. The paid advertisements often catch a lot of unreasonable criticism from some search users as they can tend to show up in some inconvenient places. While there is some truth to an ads location sometimes impeding on the organic results listings, it’s simple to discern which results are which as the paid ads will say they’re paid ads. The paid results are often on a different colored background, and will say something to the effect of “Ads related to – ” or “Sponsored Listings”. A key point to think about, and consider when you’re first building your own search campaign, is to weigh the return on investment if you were to use PPC as part of your strategy. A simple way to explain how ads are chosen to be displayed are by relevance to the search term, is the bid for the term meet the cost (the ads are based around an auction – high bidder wins in most cases), and is the text of the ad appropriate to the search query. This is a quick way to gain some visibility if you’re trying to rebrand your business, or if you have a brand new website and want to try and gain some quick traction. In then end for things like big money terms, like “hotel rental” it will likely be the company with the deepest pockets who commands the top of the paid results, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a shot at the most important organic results that make up the meat of the page.
Internet Marketing – It’s just an all encompassing term to wrap up all aspects of online marketing. Whether it’s SEO, PPC, branding for your business, when you hear the term internet marketing you just need to keep in mind that it’s a general term, not a specific one.
There’s a lot of scary terms in the the SEO world, and if you’ve been reading about the benefits that you can gain from a properly executed search campaign, you’ve undoubtedly run across some of them. Usually they include things like Google bans, black hat tactics, spam penalty, any or all of which can effectively lead to your website being dropped from the search engine results pages. So here are a couple of tips that you can focus on improving your website, instead of thinking about the unlikely doom and gloom that awaits those who try and trick the search gods.
Now these won’t make you immune to any radical changes that Google or Bing introduce, but those types of updates are infrequent, and while can be devastating if you’ve been doing the wrong things for some time, don’t automatically end your online marketing campaign.
One of the first things you need to realize about search, is that you need to make your business a brand, regardless of which results page you’re trying to crack. When you conduct a search the most frequent returned results in the top spots are always major brand names. Especially if you’re searching for things like electronics, sporting goods, hotel bookings, most likely all will be major brand names. First instinct may be to think that they pay Google and Bing directly to perch their business and website at the top of the results page, but the realistic truth is they’ve built their brand. When you think of a company like Coke or Pepsi, you get the image of a soft drink in mind, Mercedes and Porsche brings up vehicles, and so on. You need to think of your company as a brand and what type of image you want to build for yourself online, then when you come to us with your goal in mind we can help you mold and craft your website to suit that image. Build your brand offline, and that traction and attention will follow to your online presence as well.
And when it comes to your website, forget about the search engine bots that crawl your pages and your content. You need to build your site for your users, not for the algorithms. While your end goal may be a sale to a visitor, you still want their interaction with your website to be so good, that they bookmark your site and even refer others too it. Create a high quality website with a positive user experience and you’ll find your internet marketing campaigns become doubly as effective.
A strong, positive user experience coupled with a clear and consistent branding campaign will boost any company in the search results, regardless of the size of their bank accounts. And as an added bonus to all of the effort in providing such a clear message online, as I stated in the beginning, you’re positioning your website to be almost entirely update proof.
There are a handful of helpful tips to keep in mind when building your website for your business, and about how you should go about marketing it online. There are a couple of misconceptions in particular that plague small and large businesses alike where their internet marketing is concerned. Namely the fallacy that you don’t need a website or an online branding vision, and that Google is the only search game in town.
First and foremost, search is not just for online retailers like Amazon or Ebay, it’s for everyone with a website. To put it simply – online research influences offline purchases. Forrester Research estimates that more than $1 trillion of sales generated in 2011 were influenced by online research versus $173 billion of online sales. This is almost doubly true for purchases such as autos, financial services, education, and furniture. If you have a product or service, and you have a website, you need to be marketing it and branding it in order to capitalize on that potential revenue. If you’re not at the top of your niche for search, all of those dollars are going to a competitor.
Now that you know that you need to think about your online presence, you need to remember this very important point – search means more than Google. There is no such thing as a one trick pony for all of your search engine optimization needs, and while Google attracts the majority of paid search (PPC), Bing and Yahoo are slowly gaining share. Then you have the social networks trying to get in on the act, Facebook appears intent on getting into the search market. Your online branding campaign will only see real search success when you contract an agency with the ability to manage all of the major platforms successfully. Those would include organic search, paid search, social media branding, and local marketing just to begin with.
So in short, in order to maximize your search engine optimization campaign you need to first realize that your business and website need to have an internet marketing goal in mind. Once you’ve come to that realization, the next most important step is to ensure that you find the right company which can help guide you along the correct path for you to exceed your return on investment goals.
The nature of the SEO industry is different than any other advertising method. Where other forms of marketing are concerned, it’s fairly simple to find a college or university course to enroll in, and there you can learn some of the beginnings to print, radio, and even television marketing methods. But search engine optimization is a different sort altogether than the others, it’s not something that can be readily taught, and it isn’t a field that just anyone can work in.
A big reason that the very idea of teaching someone how to work in the SEO field is folly, is the same reason the market exists in the first place, the search industry on the internet. The methods that you can learn at any time from anyone working online are already past their primary use, and while they may still work on some level they’re out dated. The way that Google and Bing have their algorithms running and autonomous for the most part, means that you just can’t be ahead of the curve in the ethical SEO world. This is the primary reason that the black hat world and SEOs exist, and while the methods will work for a day or two, in the end the spiders will spot you, and the site will disappear from search. It should be common knowledge that if it seems too good to be true then it probably is, but it is always good to remember that point, if an agency approaches you promising the world on a platter, look twice and ask for examples before jumping onto what could be a sinking ship.
Going back to the way that Google, Bing and Yahoo work online, it should also be kept in mind that over the course of a year the search engines are updated 200+ times. So any course that is being taught about search engine optimization, that information is outdated after the first week of class. Think about that point from an old media perspective, television, radio and print advertising hasn’t changed much, if at all, in the last 50 years. Yet advertising and marketing on the web is in a constant state of change, how would it be possible to teach a course about something that is entirely different month to month?
Be wary of an individual or an agency who approaches you with claims of having gone to school to learn all there is about search engine optimization, because what you learn in a book, is already out of date on the web. Ask for examples of their work, see if they can provide a list of websites or perhaps a past client whom they were able to successfully build their online presence and improve their position within the results pages.
While there are a number of services that we offer to our clients here at Freshtraffic, we have always made sure that the delivered service is above par for the cost applied. Online branding, search engine optimization, sometimes it’s a social media campaign and a pay per click blitz that clients are looking for, but we always go above and beyond to deliver for our clients. Our experience and skill set come at a premium, and while it seems to be an insurmountable amount, for the value added to your business it does get paid back in spades.
Over the last 12 months especially there has been a dumbing down of the internet marketing world. I don’t mean dumbing down as in it has gotten easier, if anything it has actually gotten more difficult, but dumbing down as in the market is saturated with people selling themselves and their “services” for greatly reduced rates. Some of the more frequent occurrences we hear about from clients are being approached via email or phone that they guarantee to rank their website number 1 in Google for only $200 and so on. There are two extremely large issues with this scenario, and while most people know that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is, there are still business owners out there who fall for this kind of blast marketing.
The first major issue with these types of claims is you can’t guarantee a rank within the results pages. It’s even difficult to pinpoint placement with Adwords let alone in the organic listings, so if you have someone approach you offering to push you to number 1 on Google, the next words from you should be “no thank you” and hanging up. The organic listings that are derived from the Google algorithm aren’t something to be trifled with, and if someone is offering to drive your site up they’re running a scam of varying severity, and should your site and business get caught up in it, you’ll feel the effects for years online.
The second issue that I have with this type of approach is if you could legitimately rank a website at number 1 on Google consistently and within the guidelines, why would you charge next to nothing for that one of a kind skill? There is a reason that the average monthly charge for an SEO contract is in the $2,000 range, and it’s not because carve a monthly report into marble and hand deliver it to you. Making your site rank in the organic listings takes time, a good deal of effort into learning your brand and niche, and into working with your website to optimize it to it’s greatest potential.
It’s frustrating sometimes to hear from clients that they are the targets of these types of marketers, but we know that with the value and skill set we bring to them they’re more than satisfied with their results. What is even more frustrating however, is when businesses look to hire someone on a contract basis to provide services like social media optimization, SEO, manage a PPC campaign, develop and deliver an email campaign as well as rebuild their website, all for the grand price of $9 per hour. There is an understanding that is missing here on the business owners end, and it’s that no one with the skill set to deliver what they’re asking for will get out of bed to help them for $20 per hour, let alone what they are offering.
When we have a new client which comes to us looking for help with their internet marketing campaign, there are two major steps which we take from the beginning. We need to weigh the quality of your content, and we need to determine the strength of the call to action, and how it relates to your marketing goal.
Going over just how important quality content is to your search engine optimization goals is like a broken record at times, but it’s importance can’t be stressed enough. What has been happening recently in the quality content department is a departure from the past methods of a client creating the articles and snippets of text required to differentiate themselves from everyone else in their niche, and they’ve gone the easy route of using the franchised copy in order to save time. To put it simply, it doesn’t matter if there are 100 people selling blue widgets on the internet, if your copy is different than theirs, and relevant to your site and your goals, you’ll wind up above them in the search results. Why? Because your content is quality, it’s relevant, and it’s unique. Make sure to include relevant terms about your products or services, or something about the supporting services around them. Another useful tactic is to prove yourself an authority in your market, and truly set yourself apart from the competition all in ways that any users can effortlessly see, and identify with.
Now the other side of quality content has to do with how you capitalize on it, with the call to action on your site. A call to action is different for every website and could be as simple as having someone submit their email for a monthly newsletter from your website. But if your call to action is lost within a busy website, if it isn’t clear to a user within a minute, then you’re going to lose out on market share. First impressions are the most important impressions, and on the internet you only have a few seconds to get your impression, and your message across to a user. If you’ve done all of the proper work and are sitting at the top of the search results and continue to have less than stellar conversions, contact us here at Freshtraffic so we can help you find what you’re missing. We’ll work closely with you to build your positions to where you need them to maximize your potential and help you identify your niche market. Take for example the previous example of selling blue widgets, it doesn’t do you any good to rank number one in the results pages for purple widgets if you don’t sell them. It may mean as simple a step as reworking the message of your content, or it may require a completely new online branding approach. When you’re ready to make your business grow in leaps and bounds, we’ll be ready.
We often field phone calls and emails from people looking for help with their website, whether it is a design issue or a results page placement, we can help you out with the team we’ve built here. What we find more often than not, is that they were the unknowing recipient of someone who sold themselves as an individual who could do it all for them, and in the process got overall wishy washy results. It’s a topic I’ve had to go over every now and then to get that information back out there, but here it is again – use the right person for the job.
The danger of someone selling themselves as something that they are not online is easy to spot, if you know what to look for. It is when you have not been educated about, or have taken your own time to learn about the differences between website design, website development, and search engine optimization that you can fall into a less than ideal situation. In order to keep this explanation short, I’ll refer to WordPress and the way it is constructed when discussing the differences of development, design, and optimization.
Then there is the optimization side of your online presence, because having an amazingly designed website that has no visibility is like building the fastest boat in the world and never putting it in the water. It will never reach it’s potential if you don’t take full advantage of it’s capabilities, and knowing the right people for the job is priority number one.
With the rise of digital marketing, it has made cultivating an effective online brand image more important to businesses than ever before. Whether you are trying to reach your audience across social media outlets or participating in PPC advertising, online marketing puts you face to face with your potential clients, making it essential to deliver a consistently positive impression. In order to reach the full potential of your online branding campaign, ensure your brand image is supported by your marketing, while your marketing supports your brand.
First thins first, you need to ensure you have a core understanding of your company’s identity. Sit down with your trusted business associates to help you determine the essence of what your business is about, keeping in mind these are the starting points of your branding mission. Be sure to include your marketing and sales department in the process, so you are working as a team to create a message that hits the sweet spot with your existing demographic, with a goal of growth. This is where you create consistency that outlines all communications, including online content and advertising.
At this point you need to begin to determine what are the goals of your marketing campaign? Who do you want to reach? Figure out what you want to say and how can you say it in a way that emanates from your branding? These are some of the questions which must be addressed when drawing up a game plan on how to proceed with your online efforts. Remember that in the end, it’s all about serving the customer. So review your plan from the user’s perspective to better understand how your actions stand to impact your image.
The truly iconic companies, such as Apple for example, have achieved a brand image that resonates deeper than just a logo or slogan by painstakingly cultivating a supportive visual landscape and message. Take that feather for your own marketing cap, whether you are putting up a Facebook page or running paid advertisements, make the effort to design and brand content that’s unique to your organization and message. And then one of the best parts of utilizing online branding to your advantage, you can engage your customers directly, and collect useful data that can be analysed to further improve your business. Perfecting your online marketing efforts is a never ending process which requires continuous evaluation, reaction, and being proactive. By taking the time and learning from how your your message is being received, you can more precisely adjust your tone to optimize effectiveness.
A good deal of the time when we’re working with a new client, we have to bite our own tongue when we’re getting the full story on previous optimization efforts. Sometimes we hit the jackpot in the game and find out that the site is new, built by an actually web developer who knows a thing or two about the best practices that you should be using and they are actively working on their content and images. When we run into this type of diamond in the rough client, we can shape their online presence to not only proudly display them, but drive them quickly up the results pages to where they want to be. This is a win/win situation for both us, and the business owner as they see a strong growth in business and online conversions, allowing them to grow into the market force they want to be.
On the other side of the spectrum, we’ve also had contact with those clients who have used every trick in the online marketing book to be noticed online. We have seen all sorts of bad habits, everything from multiple sites with identical content, and wondering why they can’t find any of their sites in the results, all the way up to some site owners using hidden text, divs. The least troublesome problems to deal with are the multiple identical sites, once we’re able to pin point which goal is the prize, we make it very clear that the clean up operation will take some time to take effect, but it can be fixed. Now the other shady tricks, we’ve gone so far as to recommend one person looking for our help to completely dump their site and start over with a new branding campaign. It was at that point we had learned they had put all of their eggs into the proverbial basket, and were stuck with what they had, and in the end we had our hands mostly tied with how much we could do for them. While no cause is completely lost, there are those which are somewhat unable to be fixed.
And the trend which has been cropping up more and more as of late, there are the DIY clients who felt they could build, optimize and manage their website all while running their business. The major issue that we have had working with these types of clients usually comes in the form of meddling, or the alteration of any on page and off page work we are using. The internet is a great and powerful informational tool, but here’s the thing aboud search engine optimization that the DIY crowd doesn’t fully understand yet: just because you followed the steps to an online guide about optimizing your website, doesn’t mean you have optimized your site. It is in the same difference of quality and time usage that you would find when you hire someone to professionally paint your interior of your home. Yes you can both do the job, but the pro will get the job done better, quicker, and correctly, we’ve all been to that friends house that has strange paint coverage.
It takes more than just going through the motions to be able to properly optimize a website, on or off site. Knowing what to do is only a sliver of the toolkit we employ as SEO experts here at Freshtraffic, don’t be so hasty to lump search engine optimization into the “I can do it myself” bag. It’s much more than just how to do your SEO, once you realize that point about online marketing, we’ll be ready to help you. Just because you think you can do what we do, doesn’t mean you can.