Julie Hume

Jule Hume, SEO Marketer at WebdirexionJulie Hume, Editor, SEO and Social Media Marketer: is a career Marketing-Communications professional, having served as Director of Communications for Amari Hotels and Resorts, and Content Director for eThailand. For the past several years, she has worked independently as a writer, SEO specialist, and Social Media Marketer for a variety of clients. Currently she is attending Hootsuite University to keep her social media skills updated, as SEO continues to merge with Social Media. Julie enjoys a good mug of coffee, long walks with her children and dog on the island where she lives, and a good laugh watching professional comedians.

SEO Without CRO is a Plane Without an Engine

Are you practicing SEO... without the "engines" of CRO?

Are you practicing SEO… without the “engines” of CRO?

What is it that you want to achieve with your company website? Is the end goal the sheer glory of seeing your web appear high in the search engine pages for random keyword phrases? Or perhaps the c-suite execs push for numbers – the more people that arrive at the site each month, the better?

Of course not.

Search engine rankings and number of visitors are meaningless unless they convert into leads or clients. Even if the only goal of the website is to provide information,  it is still desirable that the visitors that land on the site have an interest in the topic and their path through the site to find the information they seek should be productive.

The point of the website is  to have visitors interact with it in one or more of  any number of pre-determined conversion goals. SEO gets the visitors to the site but CRO gets them to interact with it and hit those conversion goals.

The Objective of SEO

To take the above a step further – what is the objective of SEO? Is it to achieve high placement in the search engine results pages or is it to achieve relevant site traffic?

If all you want is traffic for traffic sake then by all means pepper every page with key phrases containing the word ‘free’ and any number of x-rated buzz words but don’t expect your website visitors to do anything other than suck up your bandwidth.

SEO for SEO’s sake is like a plane without an engine. You can fill it with as many people as will fit but you ain’t going anywhere.

Search engine rankings and number of visitors are meaningless unless they convert into leads or clients.”

Avoiding Ego Boost Keyphrases

Unfortunately when it comes to digital marketing some business owners just lose their minds.  For some reason all commonsense deserts them and instead of creating content which provides the most relevant information to their target customer, they start pushing to get ego boost phrases to the top of the serps (Search Engine Results Pages) . Serp domination becomes their goal not client conversion.

Seriously, who cares if your website is in the first position of Google for the term general contractor? Do you think that a motivated buyer is going to search using that term or do you think he is more likely to use a location specific term like Clark County general contractor quotes.

By getting more specific you are immediately reducing the competition for airspace at the top of the serps, in the case above from 54,400,000 down to 804,400 and Google recognizes that you are far more likely to provide a relevant answer to any search query related to general contractor quotes in Clark County (whether or not the searcher included the words Clark County or was simply located in Clark County).

Okay, so you can improve your search engine optimization by using more specific phrases and, if relevant to your business, including location focused content. But this is not exactly news. Google has been geotargeting for several years now and we have covered choosing the perfect long tail keywords in past articles.

Good search engine optimization, like choosing the most effective long tail keywords, can result in vastly improved traffic but remember ‘bums on seats’ is not the end goal. It is what these visitors do on on site that is important and that is where CRO comes in.

SEO from a CRO POV

Wow. Acronym overload. What I mean is let’s forget how search engine optimization can influence your serps and look instead at  how it might influence your visitors and increase your conversion rate optimization. If you have chosen to optimize your site for well chosen keywords then visitors that arrive via a google search listing will find what they were looking for. On the other hand, if you have gone for ego boost or ineffective phrases then you will see high bounce and exit rates.

In Google Analytics you can view bounce rate vs sessions for the entire site or drill down and analyze bounce rates for a particular page over time.

bounce-rate

 

You can also identify which pages have the highest exit rates and flag them for review. The Google Analytics behaviour flow chart is also very useful for seeing exactly which pages have the largest drop off and you can view this by Landing Page or by Medium/Source which will help you determine how tweaking site content / keyword selection is effecting your visitor’s path through the site.

ga-behavior-flow

With access to your Google Analytics dashboard you can access reports like these any time but it’s possible to set up a specific content conversion report. A good starting point is the Content Analysis Dashboard template by Vagelis Varfis, available in the Google Analytics Report Gallery.

Google Analytics

Unpack that template within the Custom Report section of your site’s account in Google Analytics and you have a dashboard which at a glance gives you an overview of:

  • Pageviews and Unique Pageviews by Page Title
  • Visits and % New Visits by Landing Page
  • Average Time on Page and Bounce Rate by Page Title
  • exit and page Views by Page
  • Goal Conversions
  • Page Views by Country / Territory
  • Page Views by City

You can delete or add widgets up to a total of 12 which allow you to slice and dice visitor activity just about any way you want. This report can be set to email to interested parties on a regular basis and is a good way to keep your SEO team focused on the CRO goals – converting visitors into customers.

Lock in your learning… more CRO related articles:

Increasing Email Conversion Rates

What is Everyone CROing About?

Smart Forms for Smart Conversion

How to Increase Conversion Rates

 

 

 

Why You Must Review Your Site’s Link Profile

Avoid the backlink beartrap

Avoid the backlink beartrap – clean up your link profile.

Way back in the mists of internet time, Google noticed that sites which performed a useful service tended to attract natural links. Web-owners chose to link out to sites which complemented their own or served their own web visitors in some way. For example, a site selling holiday accommodation might link out to local restaurants, tours or transport information.

This system worked well for both those searching for information and for the website owners themselves. By going to the effort of seeking out quality websites to link to, the website owners created a source of information to which visitors would return. The sites which made a point of providing quality information naturally attracted links from related sites.

Unfortunately, while this system worked well for all involved, once it came to Google’s attention they decided that organic links could be used as a method of judging a site’s quality. Although Google is notoriously close-mouthed when it comes to their ranking algorithm, it soon become clear that the number of links pointing to a site was significant. Cue linkbuilding frenzy.

Discredited Linkbuilding Tactics

Bad Link Building

Just say no.

Services sprang up right, left and center promising to drum up hundreds of links within days. Schemes and scams abounded.  They still do. Look at the image to the left which was cut and pasted from a service in the wild. Wow. 56,999 backlinks for $5. It sounds too good to be true. Doh.

  • Blog Commenting
  • Link Wheels
  • Blog Network
  • Guest Blogging
  • Article Directory Spam
  • Site wide Links
  • Widget Links
  • Poor Quality Directory Spam

The Intent Behind a Link

While some of the techniques used were spammy and intended to game Google from the outset (hello, Link Wheels!), others like blog commenting and guest blogging only become spammy when you consider the intent. It is fairly obvious that a comment on a mommy blogger site from a user calling himself – and linking to – Hot Asian Chicks is likely to be a spammer. However, a commenter on the same site giving tips on baking the perfect pie is likely to be the real deal.  In the end, both Google (and smart, honest marketers) want to be about authentic links — you know, from people who really think your site content IS worth a link.

 Google Slams the Brakes On

In April 2012, Google launched an update, initially known as the Webspam Algorithm but soon given the name Penguin. Like the Panda Update which came before, this newcomer had teeth.  Here is how Penguin is described by Chris Meier in the excellent Positionly blog:

A little more than a year after first introducing the Panda update, Google introduced Penguin – a webspam algorithm update. Panda specifically targeted sites and pages with low quality content, while Penguin was designed to target pages that were boosting their rankings by spamming Google. Popular techniques included: Keyword stuffing, Link schemes, Cloaking, Sly redirects, Doorway pages, and Intentional duplicate content.”

Backlink BearTraps

Google is always on the lookout for ways that their search engine might be being gamed by those trying to get low quality, irrelevant sites to appear higher in the SERPS than they deserve. This constant tightening of loopholes means that what was a legitimate SEO tactic a couple of years ago is now verboten. It may be that the first the web owner knows about a poor quality link profile is when he receives the following scary email from Google:

Unnatural inbound links

Google has detected a pattern of artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site. Buying links or participating in link schemes in order to manipulate PageRank are violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

As a result, Google has applied a manual spam action to globaldatavault.com/. There may be other actions on your site or parts of your site.

Recommended action:  

  • Use the Links to Your Site feature in Webmaster Tools to download a list of links to your site.
  • Ensure that unnatural links pointing to your site are removed.
  • When these changes are made, and you are satisfied that links to your site follow Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, submit a reconsideration request. If you’re unable to remove links pointing to your site, please provide as much detail as possible in your reconsideration request.
  • For an updated list of manual actions currently applied to your site, visit the Manual Actions page. If no manual actions are listed, there is no longer a need to file a reconsideration request.
  • If we determine your site is no longer in violation of our guidelines, we’ll revoke the manual action.

An Ounce of Prevention

There is no question that inbound links are still an important ranking factor. Here is what Searchmetrics say about them in the introduction to their excellent 2014 Ranking Factors Study:

Backlinks: The quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial as there are many new features introduced this year that have been revised to improve the quality of the results.

What has changed is the very strong emphasis on the quality of the link. Is it coming from a reputable site? Is it coming from a relevant page? Is the site the link is coming from seasoned and cited often on the topic of the post it is linking to?

Going forward your link building energy will have be targeted on building high quality connections however before that perhaps you need to take a trip back in time and see what beartraps have been left in your path through outdated linking tactics or downright spammy techniques.

Stay tuned for the next post to find out how to take a long hard look at your current link profile and clean it up preparatory to embarking on a quality link building campaign.

 Read more in : Sticking a Fork in Link Schemes: Penguin, Guest Posts and the Impact on Link Building

What is SEO and Why Isn’t It Dead Yet?

Is SEO dead

Spammy Engine Optimization is SEO is deader than a dodo but Search Engine Optimization is very much alive and well.

In the last two years there have been countless articles published on internet marketing websites and online publications declaring that ‘SEO is dead’.  In fact, if you were to do a filtered search on Google for webpages that contained the SEO is Dead term published in the last month alone, you would find hundreds from which to choose. So, is it true?

Is SEO dead?

Well yes and no. Scammer SEO is dead. The kind that relied on creating false profiles and blasting thousands of links to spammy link directories. The kind that involved  ‘spinning’ the same piece of content multiple times and plastering the resulting gibberish all over the web. That kind of  seo worked for a while to get dubious sites ranked well  for terms that they really did not deserve (more…)

Online Healthcare Marketing – Mayo Clinic

English: Mayo Clinic Rochester Minnesota - Gon...

English: Mayo Clinic Rochester Minnesota – Gonda Building (3rd Avenue SW) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not so long ago healthcare marketing was seen as being faintly unseemly if not downright unethical. In fact a paper titled, Physicians’ and consumers’ conflicting attitudes toward health care advertising by F.B. Krohn and C. Flynn, published back in 2001 was dedicated to exploring the differing opinion between doctors and patients regarding advertising medical services.

At the time, many medical professionals saw advertising as ‘…potentially unethical, misleading, deceptive and likely to lead to price increases.’  Consumers on the other hand, those potential patients, felt that healthcare advertising led, “…to higher consumer awareness of services, better services, promotes competitive pricing, and lowers rather than raises health care costs.”

One can only hope that those physicians opposed (more…)

Using Google+ for B2B Marketing Success

Google+ for B2B

Join us on 08.29.13 (last Thursday in August) at 10:00 AM PST/1 PM EST — register now for free. Don’t forget to send your comments and questions to #WebDXSocial via Twitter and Google+ both before and during the session.

After a slow start, Google Plus has come racing to the front of the pack, now surpassing Twitter in its number of active users. Whether they are already actively using Google Plus or not, internet marketers, particularly those in the B2B arena can not afford to ignore its potential. To do so, would be to risk being left in their competitors’ dust as they make use of the network’s robust tool set for marketers.

No matter how much sense it makes to chart new territory however, it is always better to have a guide or two that can show you where the treasure is buried. In this, our third Live Social Strategies session, Webdirexion are proud to introduce three respected social media marketers Michael Procopio, Debbie Horovitch and Ryan Bush. Each will be generously sharing their own tips and experiences of using Google Plus for B2B Marketing. (more…)